Healthcare professionals in Vietnam have launched a clinical trial on chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, as treatment for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Ministry of Health has allowed the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases to chiefly coordinate the trial, with cooperation from the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Makeshift Hospital, Can Gio Makeshift Hospital, the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, and the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) in Vietnam, according to documents obtained by Tuoi Tre News.
The field hospitals in Cu Chi and Can Gio, two outlying districts of Ho Chi Minh City, were built to treat COVID-19 patients in Vietnam.
The OUCRU will help the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases with testing techniques, drug assessment, and a part of testing fees.
The health ministry will provide drugs to be used in this clinical research.
“The main goal is to show if chloroquine kills the virus, reducing its presence in the nose and throat,” Prof. Guy Thwaites, director of the OUCRU in Vietnam, told Tuoi Tre News by email.
“We hope that if the drug does that, it will also speed recovery.”
There is an ongoing debate over the efficacy of chloroquine use in COVID-19 treatment in the U.S. and European countries, Dr. Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, lead of the research, told Tuoi Tre News on Wednesday.
This clinical trial will provide evidence for the Ministry of Health to make appropriate decisions in preparing treatment plans for patients in Vietnam.
The health ministry approved a 12-month period for this clinical research on 240 infected patients, Dr. Chau said.
Volunteers will be divided into two groups, 120 patients each.
Both will be treated under the health ministry’s existing regimen but only one of the groups will be given oral chlroquine.
The researchers will assess the safety and efficacy of the drug and submit a report to the health ministry.
The doctor said that they had managed to recruit only one volunteer by Wednesday.
Dr. Chau underlined that people should not buy the drug to self-medicate as it can cause death if improperly dosed.
Chloroquine is an oral prescription drug that has been used for treatment of malaria and certain inflammatory conditions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The medication has been prescribed for treating COVID-19 patients in some countries but it is still not a proven treatment.
Vietnam has confirmed 257 cases so far, with 144 having recovered.
The country has recorded no death in association with the disease.