Oxford researchers to continue coronavirus trial of malaria drug backed by Donald Trump

The NHS is to press ahead with the trial of a controversial drug endorsed by Donald Trump, despite warnings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it makes death from coronavirus more likely.

The Oxford University-led trial of hydroxychloroquine, originally a malaria drug, was hailed by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, in April as a “major milestone” in the battle against Covid-19.

However, the results of an international study by the WHO, published last week, indicate that it increases the chances of death for hospitalised patients by nine to 21 per cent.

The organisation suspended its trial on Monday, citing safety concerns. But on Tuesday night, the leaders of the Oxford-led Recovery trial, which operates in NHS hospitals, said they would continue on the basis their data did not show an increased risk.

Mr Trump has repeatedly backed the use of hydroxychloroquine, despite warnings from officials in his administration that its safety and effectiveness are not proven.

Last week, the US President told reporters at the White House that he had been taking the drug for “a couple of weeks” as a preventative measure. His enthusiasm has been echoed by Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro.

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