Malaria and the Wuhan virus do not have much in common except that according to researchers an old malaria drug called chloroquine is showing signs that is can fight COVID-19.
Chloroquine has been around since 1944, it can be given before exposure to prevent malaria and it can also be given as treatment once a patient has contracted malaria.
Malaria is caused by a parasite, unlike the coronavirus, however, it was also effective in treating the Wuhan virus cousin SARS.
“There is evidence that chloroquine is effective when they looked at SARS in vitro with primate cells,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist and internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The theory of the experiment with primate cells was that chloroquine could be for preventing viral infection or as a treatment for viral infection after it had occurred. In vitro in these primate cells, there was evidence that viral particles were significantly reduced when chloroquine was used.”
In France, for instance, a professor conducted a small study of the malaria drug in 24 patients with novel coronavirus infections. Only 25% of those who received the medicine tested positive for the virus after 6 days, according to en24. Meanwhile, of those who didn’t receive it, 90% tested positive after that timeframe. The French government now plans to run larger studies.
Researchers have learned that the protein spikes on the surface of COVID-19 are similar to the spikes found on the SARS virus. A person becomes infected when those protein spikes bind to special receptors on the outside of human cells. Chloroquine interferes with those receptors which can interfere with the virus’s ability to connect with cells.
“The way that it worked against SARS was by preventing of the attachment of the virus to the cells. Chloroquine interfered with the attachment to that receptor on the cell membrane surface,” Horovitz said. “So it’s disrupting a lock and key kind of mechanism of attachment.”
There are clinical trials going on around the world, 20 in China, England, Thailand, South Korea, and The United States.
Early research is very promising, USA biopharma companies are scrambling, Bayer is getting ready to donate their entire Chloroquine stock.