'More Data Is Needed' on Hydroxychloroquine's Impact on Coronavirus Patients, Infectious Diseases Institute Says

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has said that "more data is needed" on hydroxychloroquine, the drug President Donald Trump has repeatedly promoted as a treatment for coronavirus, in order to prove that it "can improve outcomes in people with COVID-19."

During a White House briefing on the U.S.'s response to the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, Trump repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine as a promising treatment for the coronavirus, despite warnings from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that more research needed to be done on the drug's impact on COVID-19 patients.

Asked to comment on whether it was still the case that the drug required rigorous testing before the White House could champion it as a potential treatment for coronavirus, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that "although hydroxychloroquine has been used to treat some people with COVID-19, more data is needed to prove that the treatment can improve outcomes in people with COVID-19."

"Large randomized, controlled clinical trials are the gold standard for determining if a treatment can benefit patients," NIAID said in a statement sent to Newsweek.

The institute said it was in the "planning stages" for such a trial, adding that NIAID officials would "provide more information about the study when it begins."

NIAID added that the institute was also "researching other therapies for COVID-19, including broad-spectrum antivirals and antibodies."

A "large randomized, controlled clinical trial" of the investigational antiviral remdesivir, an anti-viral drug created to treat Ebola, began at the end of February and is still ongoing, the institute said.

In this photo illustration a Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate medication pill is displayed on March 26, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world. John Phillips/Getty

On Saturday, Daniel Day, the CEO of U.S. biotech company Gilead, announced that his firm had 1.5 million individual doses of remdesivir in the final stages of production.

Day said his firm planned to release the entirety of the supply to help treat COVID-19 patients with the most severe of symptoms.

Like NIAID, Day sought to make clear that remdesivir is still an investigational medicine. Further, he added that it had yet to be approved by regulatory authorities around the world.

"The...doses are available for compassionate use, expanded access and clinical trials and will be donated for broader distribution following any potential future regulatory authorizations," he said.

"The safety and efficacy are not yet known so while we feel the greatest sense of urgency in our work with remdesivir, we must take the responsible, ethical approach of determining whether it is indeed a safe, effective treatment. This is why multiple clinical trials for remdesivir are underway, involving thousands of patients with COVID-19 across the world," he asserted.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.