close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
October 29, 2020

AKU study to test if hydroxychloroquine can prevent spread of Covid-19 among frontline healthcare staff

Karachi

October 29, 2020

As the world waits impatiently for a Covid-19 vaccine, the Pakistani arm of the largest global study to test if hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine can prevent the coronavirus in vital healthcare workers has begun enrolling participants at the Aga Khan University in Karachi.

The study, COPCOV, is a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial which is considered to be the most robust method to prove the efficacy of a drug, said a statement issued by the AKU on Wednesday.

The trial will see half of participants given hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, while the other half will receive a placebo. The selection will be at random. In order to eliminate the chance of bias, neither study participants nor the administrators of the trial will know which group is receiving the drug or the placebo.

Used for over 60 years to treat malaria, amoebic liver abscess and other diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, hydroxychloroquine -- or chloroquine -- has been shown in the laboratory to kill the novel coronavirus.

The AKU is the first centre outside of the UK to be participating in the study led by the University of Oxford in the UK and Wellcome-supported Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Although there is increasing evidence that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine could work as a form of preventive medicine for Covid-19 -- rather than when a person gets sick -- researchers are still not sure.

“I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine can prevent Covid-19 or not. But I do know that we really need to find out, and quickly. We could be waiting a long time for an effective vaccine,” said one of COPCOV’s co-principal investigators, Prof Sir Nick White.

“If there is a chance that it can offer valuable protection against Covid-19, it’s imperative that the study finds out if it does,” said Prof Asim Beg, the COPCOV’s principal investigator in Pakistan.

The Pakistan COPCOV site at the AKU is the first site outside the UK, joining five COPCOV sites operating in the UK. COPCOV is the only non-vaccine Covid prophylaxis study deemed to be of urgent public health importance by the UK’s NIHR Clinical Research Network.

In Pakistan, the study is being supported by the AKU’s Dr Farah Qamar, Dr Faisal Mahmood, Dr Noshin Nasir, Dr Momin Qazi and Dr Sonia Qureshi as well as by Prof Saeed Hamid, director of the AKU’s Clinical Trials Unit.