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Politicians, doctors don't agree on possible COVID-19 treatment

The White House believes hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria medication, could treat or even cure coronavirus patients, but many doctors have yet to embrace it.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Doctor holding Hydroxychloroquine drug

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The White House has endorsed it for weeks, and President Trump himself has even called it a game-changer, but not everyone is on board with using the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus patients. 

Even Dr. Anthony Faucci, the country's top infectious disease expert, has expressed some reservations. 

Hydroxychloroquine is a drug primarily used to fight malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. However, in laboratory tests, it appears to block COVID-19 coronavirus from invading cells. Researchers think it might also help dampen a person's overactive immune system. 

However, there is currently no definitive scientific proof that it works, only ]anecdotal reports of it helping some patients. 

Some early studies in China and France found the drug could help, but those studies ended up being flawed. A more recent Chinese study, that was not flawed, shows promise, but the scale was pretty small and the authors say more research needed to be done.

Since hydroxychloroquine is relatively safe, the Food and Drug Administration has licensed discretionary use of hydroxychloroquine, meaning doctors can use the drug to treat severely ill coronavirus patients. The agency has not, however, signed off on it as a safe or effective treatment for coronavirus patients.

Other health experts also warn that anyone taking hydroxychloroquine should do so with caution. For instance, the drug is not good for anyone with abnormal heart rhythms. Health officials are also concerned that the public will think this is a silver bullet when the research just isn't there yet.

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