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VERIFY: Fact vs. Fiction of chloroquine, Malaria drug claimed to help treat COVID- 19

The VERIFY team researched some of the latest information on chloroquine, a Malaria drug that's considered an alternative treatment for coronavirus.

WASHINGTON —

Since President Donald Trump mentioned chloroquine as a potential cure or treatment for the coronavirus, the Malaria drug has received a lot of scrutiny and attention. 

Here are some of the facts and latest updates on chloroquine and its levels of approval by the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and the Federal Drug Administration. 

CHLOROQUINE IS NOT A RECOMMENDED FORM OF TREATMENT, BUT IT IS BEING TESTED

In a February 20th press conference, Dr. Janet Diaz, Head of Clinical Care and Health Emergencies from the World Health Organization said that there’s no current proof that chloroquine is an effective treatment.

She said it is considered a therapeutic procedure and that the organization recommends "therapeutics should be tested under ethically approved clinical trials to show efficacy and safety".

The CDC website quotes a study that claims chloroquine phosphate has demonstrated "apparent efficacy and acceptable safety against COVID-19-associated pneumonia" in trials in China.

The CDC recognizes the use of the drug along with other medications only for clinical trial purposes, or "therapeutic options." This consideration goes hand in hand with the newly appointed SOLIDARITY trial conducted by the WHO in which countries can sign up for local clinical trials.

NOT ALL CHLOROQUINE IS THE SAME

In an interview with NBC News, a woman told reporters that her husband took Chloroquine phosphate, an active ingredient in a chemical used to treat fish tanks for parasites. She claims her husband died after ingesting the fish treatment.

While the VERIFY team can't independently confirm this is what happened, we can confirm that Chloroquine does exist in certain fish parasite treatments. It is not the medical form of Chloroquine.

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CHLOROQUINE WAS ROLLED BACK IN CHINA BECAUSE OF ITS SIDE EFFECTS

A report from an Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences showed that the dosing of Chloroquine is very sensitive and that taking too much of the drug could lead to major side effects or death.

The US FDA put out warning labels for users of Chloroquine Phosphate.
They list Cardiac effects, Hypoglycemia, Retinopathy, Central Nervous System Effects, Muscular Weakness and Potential Carcinogenic risk as possible side effects.

The FDA hasn’t approved its use in the US 

The Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved the use of chloroquine in the US as a form of treatment for COVID-19, only in clinical trials prior approval from the patient, as also the drug is not suitable for every patient either (case-by-case basis). 

Studies about its effectiveness on a larger scale are just beginning, amid the current shortage of the medication that according to the FDA is affecting the treatment of people with lupus and other health conditions. 

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