Clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for the treatment of coronavirus infection 2019 (COVID-19) are moving forward on the heels of conflicting, and sometimes controversial, observational studies out of China and France from the first months of the pandemic [1–3].
In the absence of a vaccine the medical and scientific community is looking intensely at utilizing a pre or post exposure drug that could decrease viremia. The search for a medication that could reduce risk of serious disease, and ideally of any manifestation of disease from SARS-CoV2, and of asymptomatic shedding of SARS-CoV2 is of urgent interest. Repurposing existing pharmaceuticals is among the approaches to achieve these ends.
The claim that anti-malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, can cure COVID-19 became a focus of fierce political battles that pitted promoters of these pharmaceuticals, Presidents Bolsonaro and Trump among them, against "medical elites." At the center of these battles are different meanings of effectiveness in medicine, the complex role of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in proving such effectiveness, the task of medical experts and the state in regulating pharmaceuticals, patients' activism, and the collective production of medical knowledge.
Modern clinical trials have suggested that anemia protects against malaria mortality. Military records of the Second World War in Asia were examined to see if there was support for this hypothesis. When relatively well-nourished Imperial Japanese Navy sailors captured on Nauru (n = 799) were imprisoned on the Fauro Islands, 26% died from falciparum malaria.
When clinical trials enter human communities, two complex systems merge-creating challenges for the clinical trial team and the local human community. This is of particular relevance for clinical trials in low-resource settings where the resource scarcity can intensify existing inequities. Here we present a case study of a phase III malaria vaccine clinical trial.
The Greater Mekong subregion is a recurrent source of antimalarial drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. This study aimed to characterise the extent and spread of resistance across this entire region between 2007 and 2018.