BALTIMORE — University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have begun taking part in a national study testing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine to prevent infection and symptoms in people exposed to COVID-19.
In the past, hydroxychloroquine has been repeatedly touted by President Donald Trump as a possible preventative for the coronavirus.
The initiative aims to speed up the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling up possible treatments.
It was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard, and is being funded by several public and philanthropic donors,
Heading up the trial are Doctors Kathleen Neuzil, Myron M. Levine, and Miriam Laufer.
Both Dr. Neuzil and Dr. Laufer are infectious disease specialists, with extensive experience in vaccine and infectious disease research. Dr. Laufer, is a hydroxychloroquine expert, having spent years researching the therapy’s effectiveness in children, pregnant women and people living with HIV, as well as the epidemiology of drug-resistant malaria.
Researchers will be looking to enroll family members and front line workers who have been exposed to people with the virus.
“Our goal is to reach adult family and household members who live with someone who has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Dr. Laufer. “To be able to really see how to best protect these exposed individuals, we need to enroll as many people as we can into this study. We want to work with testing sites, public health facilities, medical practices, long-term care facilities and hospitals to identify anyone who might be eligible. Most COVID-19 infection is transmitted within households, so we are working to protect the health of the individuals in the family and limit the broader spread of COVID-19 infection.”
The study is being conducted remotely through online video calls and by answering questions via email. Those qualified will take either hydroxychloroquine or a placebo daily for 14 days. Volunteers who participate in the study will be asked to take the medication, complete an online survey to assess their symptoms, and collect a sample by swabbing the inside of their nose every day for 14 days. On Day 28 a final swab will be collected and a survey completed.