British health care workers at Oxford-led University will begin participating in an international trial of two anti-malaria drugs on Thursday, including US President Donald Trump, to see if they can stop COVID-19.
More than 40,000 frontline health care workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America participate in the 40 Kopkov study to determine whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in preventing novel coronaviruses.
Trump said earlier this week that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against the virus, despite warnings about its use.
The trial, led by the University of Oxford in collaboration with the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, will open to British participants on Thursday in hospital sites in Brighton and Oxford and will include patients with COVID-19 confirmed.
“We don’t really know whether chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine is beneficial or harmful to COVID-19,” said Professor Nicholas White of Oxford University and co-head of the study.
“The best way to find out if they are effective in preventing COVID-19 is in a randomized clinical trial,”
Participants in the UK, Europe and Africa will receive either hydroxychloroquine or placebo for three months. In Asia they receive chloroquine or placebo.
Moru said all 25 study sites will open in the UK by the end of June, with more sites planned in Thailand and Southeast Asia, Italy, Portugal, Africa and South America. Results are expected by the end of this year.
“We are taking this very seriously and considering all the evidence,” Britain’s security minister James Bronshire told Sky News.