New York to begin experimental drug trials Tuesday

Photo courtesy of the New York State Department of Health
Clinical specimen testing for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Laboratory.

New York will be launching drug therapy trials this week to determine if anti-malaria medications have any effect on the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that New York state has acquired 70,000 doses of Hydroxychloroquine, 10,000 doses of Zithromax and 750,000 doses of Chloroquine after getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration to conduct the trials.

The state Department of Health plans to begin administering a combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax to patients on a compassionate care basis this Tuesday, March 24. 

A laboratory study published in 2005 has shown that treatments with Chloroquine inhibited the spread of SARS-CoV infection. Another laboratory study has shown that Chloroquine’s derivative drug Hydroxychloroquine prevents the spread of SARS-CoV-2 with less side effects. Some health officials also say these anti-malaria medications are being used in Africa, where there is a low infection rate of COVID-19. 

Gov. Cuomo and President Donald Trump believe the combination of these drugs may slow down the infection rate nationwide, starting with the clinical test. 

In addition to the drug trials, Cuomo is asking the FDA to approve serological testing for COVID-19 antibodies, which would help determine which individuals already had the virus and recovered. This will allow more individuals to return to work, including health care workers to help address the shortage of medical staff in hospitals. 

“I want to know who has the antibody, which means they most likely will not get it again, and that can help us to get our medical staff back to work faster,” Cuomo said. 

As of Monday, Mar. 23, New York had more than 20,800 positive cases, more than 10 times the number of cases in New Jersey, the next highest in the U.S. at less than 2,000 cases. Cuomo is urging the federal government to provide supplies and assistance because “New York has the greatest need in the nation.” 

“We get these facilities, we get the supplies, we will save lives. If we don’t, we will lose lives,” Cuomo said.