Dr Owain Williams speaks to Medical Expo on using chloroquine to treat Covid-19

Dr Owain Williams discusses the likelihood of the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine being used to effectively treat Covid-19 on a large scale.

This comes following the ramp up of global demand for the anti-malarials, after reported positive results of using the drugs on patients in China, and a controversial claim from US President Donald Trump that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could be “gamechangers”.

Dr Williams has worked around global health for 16 years and is an expert on access to medicines and global health governance. He told Medical Expo that it’s common for existing drugs to be used for an alternative therapeutic use, that “something that has been developed for the treatment of one illness could turn out to have amazing effects in the treatment of a completely different disease.” He said he would not be surprised if an existing drug turned out to be an effective treatment for Covid-19, but that it’s “not a guarantee”.

Though finding an existing drug to treat the virus would be important, Dr Williams argued that the best hope is still vaccine development.

Even if Covid-19 ends up being a seasonal disease that becomes latent in the human population, Dr Williams says it will always recur “unless we really have a breakthrough” and see widespread use of a vaccine.   

Dr Williams points out that “there’s only ever been one human disease completely eradicated, and that is smallpox, which just shows the scale of the challenge we are faced with”.

Read the full Medical Expo article.