Is a combination of antimalarial drugs and antibiotics effective against COVID-19? Researchers cannot yet provide a definite answer, but research is underway. In the Forskningsfortællinger podcast (in Danish), we dive into a research project that investigates whether a combination of antimalarial drugs and antibiotics can protect the lungs of people with COVID-19 – and who might benefit in certain circumstances.
In the early summer of 2020, the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine was in focus when an uncontrolled observational study found serious side-effects. This study received so much attention that governments around the world suspended numerous randomized controlled trials with hydroxychloroquine, including a trial in Denmark led by Jens-Ulrik Stæhr Jensen, Chief Physician and Clinal Research Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.
The much-discussed observational study turned out to have questionable data quality and had used extreme doses of the drugs. The authors and The Lancet therefore retracted the article. This paved the way for Jens-Ulrik Stæhr Jensen to resume his trial.
“We hope that hydroxychloroquine in the normal doses we administer will inhibit the ability of the virus to divide and its ability to penetrate the cells down in the lungs. That is one effect we will strive for. The other effect will be that the azithromycin will suppress the slightly too strong immune response so that a person’s lungs are not harmed by their own immune system,” says Jens-Ulrik Stæhr Jensen about the research project.
In the podcast, Jens-Ulrik Stæhr Jensen explains the project in greater detail and the chaotic process in which it was put on hold. This article also describes that process.
In the podcast, you will also hear Anne Brandt, CEO of the Danish Lung Association, who explains how being in the COVID-19 high-risk group affects the Association’s members. You can also hear about the Association’s alternative approach to reducing COVID-19 transmission and focusing on good hygiene among young people.