An Anti-Malaria Medication and a Common Antibiotic for the Treatment of COVID-19

March 25, 2020

From Ahvie Herskowitz, MD and Devin Wilson, ND

Can an anti-malaria drug taken with a common antibiotic be useful in treating patients with COVID-19? A recently published study says yes!

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues researchers from all over the world look for viable treatment options and are investigating new drugs, vaccines, integrative medicine, etc. They are also investigating old drugs as well.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine effectively inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 virus

Chloroquine and its cousin hydroxychloroquine, are medications that have been used for decades to treat malaria all over the world. Previous studies (1, 2) done in the early 2000s, demonstrated that chloroquine active against the SARS-CoV virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Just recently two studies (3, 4) have confirmed that both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine effectively inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for current COVID-19 pandemic.

These anti-malarial medications are now being highly considered for treating COVID-19 patients. Although data from human studies is currently limited at this time a number of clinical trials investigating these antimalarial medications are underway. Click here to read more.

A recent study from France investigated the impact of hydroxychloroquine alone and in combination with azithromycin, a common antibiotic on viral clearance in patients with COVID-19.

Twenty two COVID-19 positive patients received 200 mg of hydroxychloroquine three times per day for ten days. Among these, six patients were treated with azithromycin (500 mg on day one and 250 mg daily for four days) to prevent bacteria super infections. Sixteen COVID-19 patients did not receive therapy and served as a control group. PCR based tests to detect viral loads were performed throughout the study period.

Significant reduction in viral loads of COVID-19 patients after being treated with hydroxychloroquine alone and when combined with azithromycin.

Although the trial has not ended their results show significant reduction in viral loads of COVID-19 patients after being treated with hydroxychloroquine alone and when combined with azithromycin.

70% of patients who only received hydroxychloroquine tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 at day 6 of treatment compared to 12.5% in the control group.
At day 6 of treatment, 100% of patients treated with both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin tested negative for SARS-CoV-2.

Percentage of patients with PCR-positive nasopharyngeal samples from inclusion to day6 post-inclusion in COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine only, in COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination, and in COVID-19 control patients.

The authors conclude that their study shows that “hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin.”

They also “recommend that COVID-19 patients be treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to cure their infection and to limit the transmission of the virus to other people in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the world.”

Although this is just one small sized, human clinical trial the results are promising. While we wait for other human clinical trials to be published, hydroxychloroquine alone and in combination with azithromycin are being recommended for treating COVID-19 patients in many parts of the world. Read more about chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 here.


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About Ahvie Herskowitz, MD

Dr. Herskowitz’s extensive training includes a medical degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, residencies in Anatomic Pathology and Internal Medicine, and Fellowship training in Cardiology at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center. During his 12 years at Johns Hopkins, he became Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology and Molecular Microbiology and led a research team in the study of molecular and immunological mechanisms of inflammation, autoimmunity, ischemia, heart transplantation rejection and congestive heart failure.

Dr. Herskowitz’s latest academic appointment was as Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Francisco. To learn more about Dr. Herskowitz, you can read it bio here.


About Devin Wilson, ND

Dr. Devin Wilson is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in the state of California. He treats an array of acute and chronic diseases using a holistic and integrative approach to health. Dr. Wilson is also a health consultant, researcher and writer focusing on anti-aging and longevity medicine.

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