Chloroquine phosphate, an antimalarial drug, is shown to have yielded positive data against COVID-19 associated pneumonia in multicenter clinical trials conducted in China.

It is slated to be included in the next version of the Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Pneumonia Caused by COVID-19 issued by the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China.

Chloroquine is under assessment in more than 100 infected patients at over ten hospitals in Beijing and Guangdong province. Plans for an additional study in Hunan province are in progress.

According to Sun Yanrong, deputy head of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), experts suggested that the drug be used in the next type of treatment guidelines and included in wider clinical trials as soon as possible.

Chloroquine phosphate has been used for more than 70 years. It was selected from tens of thousands of existing drugs after several rounds of screening. The results showed a certain curative effect and fairly good efficacy.

Patients treated with chloroquine required a shorter time to recover, exhibited a better drop in fever, and had improvement of lung CT images, compared to parallel groups

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Multinational and local drugmakers are speeding up manufacturing and supply of chloroquine phosphate after the old drug was proven effective to combat the novel coronavirus and was included in the treatment guidelines by the National Health Commission.

The commission issued the sixth record of its diagnosis and treatment plan to involve treatment measures such as chemical drugs and traditional Chinese herbal injections.

A sample case is a 54-year-old patient in Beijing who was admitted to the hospital four days after having symptoms. He took the drug for a week and they saw all indicators improve and the nucleic acid turned negative.

Moreover, two other clinical trials were tested potential treatments for the COVID-19 coronavirus and results are expected in 3 weeks. According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, one trial combines HIV drugs Lopinavir and Ritonavir, while the other is testing U.S.-based biotech Gilead Sciences' antiviral Remdesivir.

Doctors are likely to know whether the drugs being used to treat patients infected with the new coronavirus are effective in the said allotted time.

The duration of the two trials taking place in China is short but practical because of the large concentration of sick people at the center of the outbreak in Hubei province.

Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has launched "Dealing With the Outbreak of COVID-19 Using Science and Technology" in response to the novel coronavirus. MOST is re-assessing two major scientific and technological projects which are the "Creation of Important Innovative New Drugs" and the "Prevention and Treatment of Severe Contagions."

Some caution

Although it was proven effective to treat coronavirus, it shouldn't be taken without any medical supervision since it can lead to death or acute poisoning. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that these drugs are generally tolerated.

However, it may cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache and sometimes even itchiness. CDC also warns that when this is taken continuously for many years, it can cause a rare eye condition called retinopathy.

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