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WHO to temporarily stop study of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine

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A new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection. Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 consecutive patients treated at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LONDON — The World Health Organization said that it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine — the malaria drug U.S. President Trump said he is taking — from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments, saying that its experts need to review all available evidence to date.

In a news briefing on Monday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet, that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those that were not, there would be “a temporary pause” on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial.

“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” Tedros said, adding that the drugs are accepted treatments for people with malaria or auto-immune diseases.

Other treatments in the study, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being pursued.

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