The COVID-19 pandemic, which has by now reached 192 countries around the world, has given rise to a flurry of controversy surrounding its treatment. Not long after US President Donald Trump claimed in a daily press meeting that chloroquine and hydroxochloroquine - common anti-malarial drugs - had been approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for use against the coronavirus, Jordan has followed in the country’s footsteps in launching a clinical trial for the drug.

Jordan is the first in the Middle East to use the drug in a COVID-19-related clinical trial, and among the first countries worldwide. According to the head of the Jordanian Health Ministry’s National Committee for Epidemics, Dr. Natheer Obeidat, patients in Jordan began receiving the treatment on Sunday. 

Dr. Obeidat explained that patients are given a 400g dosage in tablet form on the first day of treatment, followed by a 200g dose for nine days after that. 

“We’ve received approval from the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA) and the National Committee for Epidemiology, so the Committee for Epidemics agreed to use hydroxychloroquine in the form of a clinical trial,” said Dr Obeidat.

Jordan has been taking a number of precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 in the past week, including imposing a countrywide lockdown. Photo courtesy of XYZ.

In spite of the fact that the FDA later denied Trump’s claims that they have approved the anti-malarial drug as a treatment for COVID-19, there are several clinical studies taking place testing out its effectiveness, and some, including one small-scale study in France have pointed towards the positive effects of hydroxycholoroquine in reducing the duration and symptoms of COVID-19, in combination with an antibiotic called azithromycin.

Hydroxocholoroquine is a widely-used drug, most commonly associated with the French pharmaceutical brand Plaquenil. However, a World Health Organisation representative said it had “no evidence” that any particular drug is effective in the treatment of coronavirus, and that they are still awaiting the results of various drugs’ clinical trials around the world. 

Jordan will be testing the treatment on all patients, and Dr. Obeidat has asserted that he is confident that the drug will not be harmful. 

A statement from the Jordan Food and Drug Administration said the use of the treatment will be in accordance with protocol, and that patients administered the drug would be closely monitored for side effects and effectiveness. It also emphasised that recreational use of the drug is wrong and that medical supervision is necessary. 

Jordan has a confirmed total of 112 COVID-19 cases, and no deaths so far. The country has been on lockdown since Saturday.

Main image courtesy of Christine Sandu.