According to the Washington Post, the CIA privately advised its workforce that taking an anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Coronavirus has potentially dangerous side effects, including possible sudden death.
The warning came in late March in an internal CIA website and was in response to questions from employees at the time. While some medical experts say there isn’t conclusive evidence that hydroxychloroquine, administered along with the antibiotic azithromycin, is an effective treatment against the virus, numerous critical patients and treatments by physicians overseas and in the United States say otherwise. Their testimony has led to ongoing clinical trials in the United States and overseas to test the effectiveness of novel coronavirus.
President Donald Trump has touted the anti-malarial drug during his daily press briefings, saying that people infected with the coronavirus must be given options in their battle against COVID19. He also lambasted critics, saying critically ill patients deserve the right to try the therapeutic medicine in fighting the disease.
“I’m not looking at it one way or the other,” Trump said during a daily briefing. “But we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early. But we have some very good signs.”
More than 23,000 people in the United States have died of the virus but recent statistics reveal that there appears to be a flattening of the curve in some of the most effected states, such as New York and California.
For example, Michigan Democratic State Representative Karen Whitsett told Fox News host Laura Ingraham last week that hydroxychloroquine stopped her coronavirus symptoms “within a couple hours” and she credited President Trump for informing the public about the drug during his national press briefings.
Whitsett, who represents an area of Detroit, told Ingraham “I really want to say that you have to give this an opportunity. For me, it saved my life.”
The National Institute of Health, however, has started a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine in April, for the treatment of adults hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The first participants for the clinical trials enrolled in Tennessee, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.
“The blinded, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial aims to enroll more than 500 adults who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 or in an emergency department with anticipated hospitalization,” stated the NIH. “All participants in the study will continue to receive clinical care as indicated for their condition. Those randomized to the experimental intervention will also receive hydroxychloroquine.”
“Effective therapies for COVID-19 are urgently needed,” stated James P. Kiley, director, Division of Lung Diseases, NHLBI in a press release. “Hydroxychloroquine has showed promise in a lab setting against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and preliminary reports suggest potential efficacy in small studies with patients. However, we really need clinical trial data to determine whether hydroxychloroquine is effective and safe in treating COVID-19.”