The World Health Organisation has pulled the steroid drug hydroxychloroquine and HIV treatment combination lopinavir/ritonavir from their ongoing COVID-19 Solidarity trials, after a recommendation from the international Steering Committee advising the same. The Solidarity Trial, established by WHO, is working to find a working treatment in hospitalized patients.

The Committee’s recommendation comes after mounting evidence comparing hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir with standard-of-care treatment from the Trial’s interim results, WHO said in a press release. The evidence from all trials was reviewed and summarised at the 1-2 July WHO Summit on COVID-19 research and innovation, the release added.

 WHO COVID-19 Trial drops hydroxychloroquine, HIV combo lopinavir/ritonavir after lack of evidence in hospitalised patients

This Tuesday, April 7, 2020 file photo shows a bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Texas City, Texas. The World Health Organization said Monday May 25, 2020, that it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments because its experts need to review all available evidence. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produced little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care, the trial concluded.

However, some safety information was compiled based on clinical findings in the associated Discovery trial, an arm of the Solidarity trial. WHO said that these will be reported in an upcoming peer-reviewed publication. The interim Solidarity results are now being readied for peer-reviewed publication, it added.

The decision only applies to WHO’s Solidarity trial in hospitalized patients, and doesn’t rule out its use in other studies to treat non-hospitalized patients, or as a pre- or post-exposure preventive treatment for COVID-19, the release clarified.

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Hydroxychloroquine was shown in laboratory experiments earlier this year to be able to block the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, but this effect has not been replicated in rigorous trials in people.

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