After several weeks of no coverage, hydroxychloroquine is back in the news. COPCOV is a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that is planned for actual health care settings (e.g. health systems, hospitals, clinics, etc.). The study is led by scientists from the University of Oxford while funding originates from the Wellcome Trust.
The study pools resources of international experts across multiple continents. COPCOV represents the largest interventional COVID-19 trial in the world involving up to 40,000 frontline healthcare workers. A couple of months ago, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) decided to paused the COPCOV trial study after hydroxychloroquine was found in another British trial to have no benefit as a treatment for patients already infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Now, a global trial designed to test whether the anti-malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can prevent infection with COVID-19 is to restart after being approved by British regulators, according to a report from Reuters. The randomized, placebo-controlled trial aims to enrol 40,000 healthcare workers and other at-risk staff around the world, and is being led by the Oxford University’s Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in the Thai capital, Bangkok.
As we mentioned last month, the FDA revoked emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, after trials showed they were of no benefit as treatments. But White, who is co-leading the COPCOV trial, said studies of the drugs as a potential preventative medicine had not yet given a conclusive answer.
“Hydroxychloroquine could still prevent infections, and this needs to be determined in a randomised controlled trial,” he said in a statement. “The question whether (it) can prevent COVID-19 or not remains as pertinent as ever.”
White’s team said recruitment of British health workers would resume this week, and said plans were under way for new sites in Thailand and Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. Results are expected by the end of this year.
Below is video overview of COPCOV.