At about the same time President Trump made headlines by revealing his use of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine – in an effort to keep him from contracting coronavirus – a study began in Australia to test the drug for the same purpose among healthcare workers there.
While there are other trials underway in the U.S. to test hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for preexisting COVID-19, this will be the first scientific study to test the drug as a preventive against the virus.
The trial, called COVID SHIELD, will involve workers at several Australian hospitals and will enroll 2,250 participants. Half of them will be given hydroxychloroquine, while the other half will receive a placebo, over a four-month study period.
Professor Ian Wicks, a rheumatologist leading the study, said Australian scientists are hopeful that the study will provide a definitive answer to questions about hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness as a preventive weapon against coronavirus, adding that doctors involved are “very comfortable” with the well-known drug’s safety profile.