It’s no exaggeration to say that the fate of the world, or at least the global economy, appears to hang on the possibility of scientists and doctors creating a vaccine for COVID-19 and either producing new drugs or — more realistically for the urgent needs of the present — discovering effective treatments among existing drugs. With any luck, a major first step has been made in the last, crucial category, as doctors report that a combination of existing drugs is decreasing the length and severity of the illness, reducing overall mortality.
According to Dr. Jeff Colyer, National Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Rural Health and former governor of Kansas, and Dr. Daniel Hinthorn, Director of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Kansas Medical Center, writing in the Wall Street Journal: “Doctors in France, South Korea and the U.S. are using an antimalarial drug known as hydroxychloroquine with success…It isn’t a silver bullet, but if deployed quickly and strategically the drug could potentially help bend the pandemic’s ‘hockey stick’ curve.”
Most patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone cleared the virus in three to six days, compared to an average of 20 in China — reducing the length of time patients can spread the virus to others. Colyer and Hinthorn further report that hydroxychloroquine, brand name Plaquenil, may be even more effective in combination with Z-Pak, also known as azithromycin, judging by the results of a small study with a 100% cure rate in France.
The authors advise: “Use this treatment cocktail early, and don’t wait until a patient is on a ventilator in the intensive-care unit.” They also note that in some places hydroxychloroquine is being used as a prophylactic treatment for health workers in high exposure situations.
Key takeaway: “Our experience suggests that hydroxychloroquine, with or without a Z-Pak, should be a first-line treatment. Unfortunately, there is already a shortage of hydroxychloroquine. The federal government should immediately contract with generic manufacturers to ramp up production. Any stockpiles should be released.”
Fox News has interviewed Dr. Colyer on the promising breakthrough on Fox and Friends and America’s Newsroom with Ed Henry.