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Donald Trump hails two drugs as possible ‘game-changers’ in Covid-19 fight



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Donald Trump has claimed that the distribution of two drugs, hydroxychloroquine ​and remdesivir, could be a “game-changer” in the fight against coronavirus. 

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, he called on health regulators to expedite potential therapies aimed at treating Covid-19, saying it could lead to a breakthrough while a vaccine is still under development.

Mr Trump pointed to efforts on Gilead Sciences Inc’s experimental anti-viral drug remdesivir and the generic antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

The President said he has called on the US Food and Drug Administration to streamline its regulatory approval process to make the two “very powerful” drugs available for prescription.

He hailed the move a potential “game-changer” in the fight against coronavirus. 

President Donald Trump addresses the coronavirus response daily briefing at the White House in Washington (REUTERS)

Mr Trump said hydroxychloroquine, which has already been approved by the FDA, has shown “tremendous promise” and would be made “available almost immediately”.

“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately,” he said. 

“That’s where the FDA has been so great – it’s been approved,” he added. “We’re going to be able to make that drug available by prescription.”

The President also said that the drug has been “around a long time” so if it is not effective at treating Covid-19, it is still “not going to kill anybody”.

“When you go with a brand new drug you don’t know that’s going to happen. It’s a very powerful drug in different forms. It’s shown very encouraging early results.”

Coronavirus – In pictures

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This combination photo created on March 5, 2020 shows tourists visiting Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province on March 16, 2019 (top) and on March 5, 2020

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale

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A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria

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A man wearing a face mask waits to board an underground train on the Central Line at Bank station in London

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

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Pope Francis celebrating a daily mass alone in the Santa Marta chapel at the Vatican, as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19

VATICAN MEDIA/AFP via Getty Imag

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Tents and ambulances are set up next to the Princess Cruises Grand Princess cruise as it sits docked in the Port of Oakland on March 09, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Princess Cruises Grand Princess has been held from docking until today as at least 21 people on board have tested positive for COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus

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A Sainsbury’s supermarket in Cambridge is among those to sell out of antibacterial hand sanitizer

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A couple kiss in Milano Centrale railway station in Milan on March 8, 2020

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Medical staff produce traditional Chinese medicine to treat patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan

AFP via Getty Images

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Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at a shopping street in Seoul, South Korea

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President Donald Trump listens as he tours the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health

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Wimbledon College closes after staff member contracts coronavirus

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A woman who has recovered from the COVID-19 is disinfected by volunteers as she arrives at a hotel for a 14-day quarantine

AFP via Getty Images

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Passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship are seen as the ship arrives at Daikoku Pier where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment as it remains in quarantine after a number of the 3,700 people on board were diagnosed with coronavirus

Getty Images

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Police officers wearing masks stand in front of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife

AP

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Carnival revellers wear protective face masks at Venice Carnival

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Manchester United fans in the stands during the Premier League match at Old Trafford

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A general view is pictured of Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire after the closure of the school as a pupil’s parent has tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19

AFP via Getty Images

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People wearing face masks walk past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Game

Getty Images

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Dave Abel pictured in hospital in Japan

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People leave Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre in Milton Keynes where Coronavirus evacuees are due to be released from quarantine today and allowed to go home

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Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside

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Staff at St Thomas’s Hospital

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A child waves as she sits in a vehicle carrying residents evacuated from a public housing building, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, outside Hong Mei House, at Cheung Hong Estate in Hong Kong

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Passengers relax on board the Holland America-operated Westerdam cruise ship, which has been denied permission to dock in Thailand over coronavirus fears

via Reuters

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Customers wearing face masks shop at the pork counter of a supermarket following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province

Reuters

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Doctor Paul McKay, who is working on an vaccine for the 2019-nCoV strain of the novel coronavirus, poses for a photograph with bacteria containing fragments of coronavirus DNA, at Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) in Londo

AFP via Getty Images

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A general view of Worthing Hospital in West Sussex

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A woman wearing a Minnie Mouse face mask looks at her mobile phone in Beijing on February 11, 2020

AFP via Getty Images

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A patient covered with a bed sheet at an exhibition centre converted into a hospital as it starts to accept patients displaying mild symptoms of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan

AFP via Getty Images

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A woman wears a mask while crossing London Bridg

Getty Images

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The Costa Smeralda cruise ship of Costa Crociere, carrying around 6,000 passengers, is docked at the Italian port of Civitavecchia after a health alert due to a Chinese couple and a possible link to coronavirus on board, in Civitavecchia, Italy

Reuters

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A medical official takes the body temperature of a man at the departure hall of the airport in Changsha, Hunan Province, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, China

Reuters

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Quarantine Officials on the Diamond Princess cruise ship

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A plane carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, arrives at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire

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The view of the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center

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A police vehicle enters the gates of the Royal Air Force station RAF Brize Norton in Carterton

AFP via Getty Images

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Passengers wear face masks as the push their luggage after arriving from a flight at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport

AFP via Getty Images

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French citizens arrive and settle aboard of an evacuation plane with destination southeastern France, before departure from Wuhan Airport (WUH), China

AFP via Getty Images

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A member of staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside prepares for a bus carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China

PA

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Police stand at a checkpoint at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge that crosses from Hubei province in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China

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Passengers wearing face masks are seen on a bus after disembarking from the Costa Smeralda cruise ship, after tests on a woman from Macau with suspected coronavirus came back negative, in Civitavecchia, Italy

Reuters

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Workers produce masks at the Thai Hospital Product Company Ltd. factory in Bangkok

AFP via Getty Images

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People hoard bottles of alcohol after the Philippine government confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus in the country, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Reuters

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Taking precautions: with fears growing that the coronavirus will spread from China, a health official checks a woman’s temperature on the underground in Beijing

Getty Images

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An empty road is seen in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on January 27, 2020, amid a deadly virus outbreak which began in the city

AFP via Getty Images

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Students wearing masks meditate prior to a lesson at a high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

AP

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Paramilitary police wear face masks as they stand guard at Tiananmen Gate adjacent to Tiananmen Square in Beijing

AP

60/69

Medical staff at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital wear protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus

AFP via Getty Images

61/69

Staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China

AP

62/69

Buddhist monks wear masks as they walk near Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodi

AP

63/69

Workers driving excavators at the construction site of a field hospital In Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The builders will complete the 1,000-bed hospital by February 3 to cope with the surge of 2019-nCoV patients in the city

Getty Images

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A woman and a child wearing protective masks walk toward check-in counters at Daxing international airport in Beijing

AFP via Getty Images

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An employee sprays disinfectant on a train as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea

AP

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A policeman wearing a mask walks past a quarantine notice about the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China at an arrival hall of Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan

Reuters

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Staff sell masks at a Yifeng Pharmacy in Wuhan

AP

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The resident wear masks to buy vegetables in the market in Wuhan

Getty Images

69/69

Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV

AP

1/69

Commuters cope with Coronavirus

Jeremy Selwyn

2/69

Charing Cross Tube Bakerloo Line very quiet at 8.15am

Jeremy Selwyn

3/69

A Racegoer attend Cheltenham Festival on Ladies Day wearing a fashionable face mask

SplashNews.com

4/69

General view inside the empty stadium as the two teams line up prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund at Parc des Princes

UEFA via Getty Images

5/69

People on a busy tube train in London at rush hour despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on people to stay away from pubs, clubs and theatres, work from home if possible and avoid all non-essential contacts and travel in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic

PA

6/69

Naomi Campbell catches a flight in a hazmat suit with goggles, a surgical mask and rubber gloves

@naomi

7/69

Hanks and Wilson both have coronavirus

Tom Hanks

8/69

Milan’s Piazza del Duomo empty

AFP via Getty Images

9/69

A woman with a plastic box over her head on the London Underground.

PA

10/69

This combination photo created on March 5, 2020 shows tourists visiting Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province on March 16, 2019 (top) and on March 5, 2020

AFP via Getty Images

11/69

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale

PA

12/69

A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria

Jeremy Selwyn

13/69

A man wearing a face mask waits to board an underground train on the Central Line at Bank station in London

AP

14/69

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Getty Images

15/69

Pope Francis celebrating a daily mass alone in the Santa Marta chapel at the Vatican, as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19

VATICAN MEDIA/AFP via Getty Imag

16/69

Tents and ambulances are set up next to the Princess Cruises Grand Princess cruise as it sits docked in the Port of Oakland on March 09, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Princess Cruises Grand Princess has been held from docking until today as at least 21 people on board have tested positive for COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus

Getty Images

17/69

A Sainsbury’s supermarket in Cambridge is among those to sell out of antibacterial hand sanitizer

PA

18/69

A couple kiss in Milano Centrale railway station in Milan on March 8, 2020

AFP via Getty Images

19/69

Coronavirus drive-in testing centre set up in Parsons Green in bid to cut danger of spreading Covid-19

Jeremy Selwyn

20/69

Medical staff produce traditional Chinese medicine to treat patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan

AFP via Getty Images

21/69

Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at a shopping street in Seoul, South Korea

AP

22/69

President Donald Trump listens as he tours the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health

AP

23/69

Wimbledon College closes after staff member contracts coronavirus

Google StreetView

24/69

A woman who has recovered from the COVID-19 is disinfected by volunteers as she arrives at a hotel for a 14-day quarantine

AFP via Getty Images

25/69

Passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship are seen as the ship arrives at Daikoku Pier where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment as it remains in quarantine after a number of the 3,700 people on board were diagnosed with coronavirus

Getty Images

26/69

Police officers wearing masks stand in front of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife

AP

27/69

Carnival revellers wear protective face masks at Venice Carnival

Reuters

28/69

Manchester United fans in the stands during the Premier League match at Old Trafford

PA

29/69

A general view is pictured of Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire after the closure of the school as a pupil’s parent has tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19

AFP via Getty Images

30/69

People wearing face masks walk past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Game

Getty Images

31/69

Dave Abel pictured in hospital in Japan

32/69

People leave Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre in Milton Keynes where Coronavirus evacuees are due to be released from quarantine today and allowed to go home

PA

33/69

Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside

PA

34/69

Staff at St Thomas’s Hospital

Jeremy Selwyn

35/69

A child waves as she sits in a vehicle carrying residents evacuated from a public housing building, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, outside Hong Mei House, at Cheung Hong Estate in Hong Kong

Reuters

36/69

Passengers relax on board the Holland America-operated Westerdam cruise ship, which has been denied permission to dock in Thailand over coronavirus fears

via Reuters

37/69

Customers wearing face masks shop at the pork counter of a supermarket following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province

Reuters

38/69

Doctor Paul McKay, who is working on an vaccine for the 2019-nCoV strain of the novel coronavirus, poses for a photograph with bacteria containing fragments of coronavirus DNA, at Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) in Londo

AFP via Getty Images

39/69

A general view of Worthing Hospital in West Sussex

PA

40/69

A woman wearing a Minnie Mouse face mask looks at her mobile phone in Beijing on February 11, 2020

AFP via Getty Images

41/69

A patient covered with a bed sheet at an exhibition centre converted into a hospital as it starts to accept patients displaying mild symptoms of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan

AFP via Getty Images

42/69

A woman wears a mask while crossing London Bridg

Getty Images

43/69

The Costa Smeralda cruise ship of Costa Crociere, carrying around 6,000 passengers, is docked at the Italian port of Civitavecchia after a health alert due to a Chinese couple and a possible link to coronavirus on board, in Civitavecchia, Italy

Reuters

44/69

A medical official takes the body temperature of a man at the departure hall of the airport in Changsha, Hunan Province, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, China

Reuters

45/69

Quarantine Officials on the Diamond Princess cruise ship

PA

46/69

A plane carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, arrives at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire

47/69

The view of the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center

Getty Images

48/69

A police vehicle enters the gates of the Royal Air Force station RAF Brize Norton in Carterton

AFP via Getty Images

49/69

Passengers wear face masks as the push their luggage after arriving from a flight at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport

AFP via Getty Images

50/69

French citizens arrive and settle aboard of an evacuation plane with destination southeastern France, before departure from Wuhan Airport (WUH), China

AFP via Getty Images

51/69

A member of staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside prepares for a bus carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China

PA

52/69

Police stand at a checkpoint at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge that crosses from Hubei province in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China

Reuters

53/69

Passengers wearing face masks are seen on a bus after disembarking from the Costa Smeralda cruise ship, after tests on a woman from Macau with suspected coronavirus came back negative, in Civitavecchia, Italy

Reuters

54/69

Workers produce masks at the Thai Hospital Product Company Ltd. factory in Bangkok

AFP via Getty Images

55/69

People hoard bottles of alcohol after the Philippine government confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus in the country, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Reuters

56/69

Taking precautions: with fears growing that the coronavirus will spread from China, a health official checks a woman’s temperature on the underground in Beijing

Getty Images

57/69

An empty road is seen in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on January 27, 2020, amid a deadly virus outbreak which began in the city

AFP via Getty Images

58/69

Students wearing masks meditate prior to a lesson at a high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

AP

59/69

Paramilitary police wear face masks as they stand guard at Tiananmen Gate adjacent to Tiananmen Square in Beijing

AP

60/69

Medical staff at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital wear protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus

AFP via Getty Images

61/69

Staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China

AP

62/69

Buddhist monks wear masks as they walk near Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodi

AP

63/69

Workers driving excavators at the construction site of a field hospital In Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The builders will complete the 1,000-bed hospital by February 3 to cope with the surge of 2019-nCoV patients in the city

Getty Images

64/69

A woman and a child wearing protective masks walk toward check-in counters at Daxing international airport in Beijing

AFP via Getty Images

65/69

An employee sprays disinfectant on a train as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea

AP

66/69

A policeman wearing a mask walks past a quarantine notice about the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China at an arrival hall of Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan

Reuters

67/69

Staff sell masks at a Yifeng Pharmacy in Wuhan

AP

68/69

The resident wear masks to buy vegetables in the market in Wuhan

Getty Images

69/69

Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV

AP

Mr Trump also announced that the FDA are near to approving Remdesivir, which is already being tested in China to treat Covid-19.

“We have to remove every barrier,” he said, speaking about getting the drugs approved and ready for distribution.

“It could be a game-changer, and maybe not,” Mr Trump told reporters. “But based on what I see I think it could be a game-changer. 

“They are very powerful. So I want every American to know we are doing everything we can.”

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said his agency was working quickly to examine all possibilities.

“In the short term, we’re looking at drugs that are already approved for other indications,” Mr Hahn said.

The University of Minnesota revealed on Tuesday that it was launching a clinical trial of whether hydroxychloroquine, a derivative of chloroquine, can prevent people catching coronavirus.

Trial volunteers who have been exposed to someone with known Covid-19, but who are not ill, will be given hydroxychloroquine to test whether it can stop the illness developing or reduce its severity.

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According to a laboratory test conducted by the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, chloroquine was found to be “highly effective” in controlling Covid-19 infection.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also included chloroquine as one of the drugs being prioritised under its global Solidarity Trial – an international study bringing together various nations’ efforts to test potential coronavirus treatments.

Dr Andrew Preston, reader in Microbial Pathogenesis at the University of Bath, said: “Chloroquine is better recognised as an anti-malarial drug.

“It is cheap, considered relatively safe in humans and has been used for over 70 years.

Italy overtakes China as country with most coronavirus deaths

“However, for over 10 years there have been studies reporting the anti-viral effects of chloroquine, or its common derivative hydroxychloroquine, against flu and Sars, raising hope of activity against the current pandemic virus.”

Dr Preston said studies showing chloroquine’s anti-viral effects during the previous Sars virus outbreak received “relatively little attention” as it died away.

He highlighted recent research in Marseille, France, where a trial of chloroquine treatment on 20 Covid-19 patients in hospital saw 70 per cent considered to be cured after six days.

Dr Preston emphasised more scrutiny was needed of the results as well as larger controlled trials on chloroquine’s effectiveness.

“But in among the oppressive darkness of the current situation, any glimmer of hope is very welcome,” he added.

President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus response briefing (REUTERS)

Robin May, Professor of Infectious Disease at the University of Birmingham, said of chloroquine: “It is a drug that has a long history of use against malaria, essentially because it diffuses into red blood cells, making the environment within the cell less suitable for the parasite to live in.

“Since it has a long history of clinical use, the safety profile of chloroquine is well-established and it is cheap and relatively easy to manufacture, so it would – theoretically – be fairly easy to accelerate into clinical trials and, if successful, eventually into treatment.”

Last month, it emerged that the UK’s Department for Health and Social Care had banned the “parallel export” of chloroquine and ritonavir/lopinavir.

Parallel exporting occurs when companies buy medicines meant for UK patients and sell them on for a higher price in another country.​

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