Source: US News

THOUSANDS OF BRITISH health care workers will participate in a global trial to test the efficacy of a drug that US President Trump recently disclosed he has been taking as a preventative measure against the coronavirus.

The Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit said Thursday that 40,000 front-line workers and staff in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America who have close contact with COVID-19 patients will participate in a double-blind trial of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19. Anyone who works in a U.K. health care facility directly treating confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is eligible.

“Laboratory evidence shows that these well-established drugs might be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19 but there is no conclusive proof,” officials said in a press release, “Despite the lack of strong evidence these drugs are being widely recommended, and they are being widely used in some countries – so finding out if they can protect against COVID-19 – yes or no – is of tremendous importance.”

Health officials report more than 5 million cases of the coronavirus across the globe and more than 328,565 people have died. The U.S. leads the world in cases, more than 1.55 million, and deaths, with more than 93,439. In the U.K., more than 249,600 cases have been recorded and more than 35,780 people have died.

Oxford Professor Sir Nicholas White said in the press release that front-line workers are at a major risk for contracting COVID-19, so a study examining the efficacy of potential treatments is important.

The trial, named COPCOV, is led by the University of Oxford and Wellcome, with support from the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok. It is funded by the COVID-19 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard Therapeutics. Enrollment of the first U.K. participants will open Thursday at the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Four additional sites are expected to open by the end of the month, with a goal of 25 sites in the U.K. by the end of June. Additionally, plans are underway to establish testing sites in Thailand, Southeast Asia, Italy, Portugal, African and South America, with results expected by the end of the year.

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