Covid-19 drug trial using Northamptonshire patients halted over health fears

Oxford scientists' studies involving sufferers from six county practices put on hold

By Kevin Nicholls
Monday, 1st June 2020, 9:24 pm

A major study involving Covid-19 patients in Northamptonshire taking the anti-malaria drug used by Donald Trump has been halted over health fears.

Oxford University scientists enlisted volunteers from six GP practices in Northampton, Wellingborough, Corby, Rothwell and Desborough in their bid to find a treatment which could keep coronavirus sufferers out of hospital.

Yet the professor leading the project revealed tests have been stopped after less than a week following publication of a medial study which revealed patients receiving hydroxychloroquine were at increased risk of dying.

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Chris Butler said: "We have temporarily suspended recruitment into the hydroxychloroquine arm of our trials and we are working to share as much information as possible to achieve a better understanding of the situation.

"We will continue to evaluate other treatments for Covid-19-like-illnesses in primary care. The safety of trial participants has always been paramount and those at

greater risk of adverse reactions to study medicines are excluded from taking part."

Hydroxychloroquine is a long-established remedy used to treat anti-immune conditions such as malaria and arthritis and scientists hoped it could have some effect in the treatment of Covid-19, keeping most sufferers out of intensive care.

Trials involving Northamptonshire Covid-19 patients taking hydroxychloroquine have been halted. Photo: Getty Images

Danes Camp and Rillwood medical centres in Northampton; Corby's Lakeside Healthcare; Albany House Medical Centre in Wellingborough; Rothwell & Desborough Healthcare Group and Moulton Surgery were all supporting patients taking part in the study.

Medical journal The Lancet published findings on Friday (May 22) which persuaded World Health Organisation chiefs to quickly remove hydroxychloroquine from its list of potential Covid-19 treatments until a review into its safety is carried out.

In a study of 96,000 coronavirus patients, almost 15,000 were given forms of hydroxychloroquine either alone or with an antibiotic. It found that death rates for those treated with hydroxychloroquine were 18 per cent compared to nine per cent for a group not being given the drug.

US President Donald Trump last week revealed he is taking hydroxychloroquine believing it will keep Covid-19 at bay despite the apparent dangers.

Patients from surgeries in Wellingborough, Corby and Northampton are joining the trials