The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is now conducting trials to determine if hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are effective in treating patients with COVID-19. 

The trial is going to be used to test the use of both drugs in the fight against the novel coronavirus. 

COVID-19
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NIH is doing this to finally prove or disprove the effects of the drugs

The NIH is now starting controlled trial tests in the latest of several trials to test the potency of the drugs. The trial which began Thursday, May 15, will involve 2,000 adults in the United States who are already infected with the coronavirus and have shown symptoms such as a cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

The infected patients will randomly receive the drug or a combination of placebos that match. Most are expected to be people over the age of 60 with underlying conditions that put them at greater risk for COVID-19 complications. These include diabetes and high blood pressure. 

The trial is already being sponsored by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or NIAID. White House coronavirus task force member and NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the trials will be extensive and will use existing drugs that are needed to find one that may deter the spread of COVID-19. 

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"We urgently need a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19," Fauci said. "Repurposing existing drugs is an attractive option because these medications have undergone extensive testing, allowing them to move quickly into clinical trials and accelerating their potential approval for COVID-19 treatment."

He ended saying, "Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data from a large randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine whether this experimental treatment is safe and can improve clinical outcomes."

Why now and not before?

For the past few months, there have been talks, as well as news reports about the efficacy of drugs like hydroxychloroquine against the coronavirus. Early preliminary trials suggested that the drug does have some positive effects. But there are a few in the field who have studied the drugs saying that that's not likely to be the case.

A study that was published just Monday, May 11, by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the combination treatment has produced no significant reduction for the death tolls due to COVID-19, and may increase the risk for the infected to experience heart attacks.

Lastly, another study published last week found that there is no benefit in using the drug hydroxychloroquine. Regardless, it's high time the US government conducts research to put an end to the debate. 

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