Dr. Marcus Zervos on Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 Study

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/John Locher)

DETROIT, MI – The “Will Hydroxychloroquine Impede or Prevent COVID-19,” or WHIP COVID-19, study is a 3,000-subject look at whether hydroxychloroquine prevents front-line workers from contracting the COVID-19 virus, according the the Henry Ford Health System website. This randomized, double-blinded study is designed to produce a scientific answer to the question: Does hydroxychloroquine work?

Henry Ford Health System is conducting the WHIP COVID-19 study to determine if taking the medication hydroxychloroquine can prevent a person who is at risk of exposure or been exposed to COVID-19 from becoming ill and possibly reduce the severity of illness. At this time, we do not know for certain if this medicine will be effective at preventing disease in those exposed to the coronavirus. The scientists will compare the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine to a placebo pill (sugar pill) that has no effects on the coronavirus as part of the study.

Dr. William W. O’Neill, leader of the study and a world-renowned interventional cardiologist and researcher who has pioneered multiple treatments for heart disease told DBusiness Magazine, “We are not involved in politics; we are scientists. There are no proven ways to keep people safe from COVID-19. This is a drug that has been used safely for more than 70 years to prevent malaria and treat other issues like lupus, with the potential to have active effect on COVID-19. We owe it to people – particularly front-line workers – to scientifically determine if it works.”

“Given our broad clinical trials and translational research infrastructure, we are grateful to bring this type of large-scale effort to the COVID-19 battle,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System, DBusiness reported.

According to the Henry Ford Health System website, volunteers for the study who consent to participate, will be asked to agree to be randomly assigned to receive hydroxychloroquine or a placebo (sugar pill), take the study medication for eight weeks, make three in-person visits to receive study medication and donate five tubes of blood, as well as answer a weekly survey for eight weeks over the phone.

Enrollment is open to any healthcare worker, first responder, or bus driver in southeast Michigan. Enrollment includes but is not limited to:  All employees of: hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living homes, skilled nursing facilities, and home-health agencies; physical therapists, occupational therapists, dental staff, optometry staff, department of corrections staff, jail personnel, border patrol, and all other first responders.

“The FDA has provided the drug directly to Henry Ford physicians to distribute,” DBusiness reported, adding that “enrollment takes place at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit,” and “many volunteers are part of the Detroit COVID Consortium, a recently announced health care collaboration on COVID-19 that includes Henry Ford, Ascension, Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, and Beaumont Health.”

Dr. O’Neill “recently organized the group to coordinate and disseminate information about large-scale studies of COVID-19 treatments and bring the measures to health care workers sooner,” DBusiness reported.

Dr. O’Neill said, “Whether this medication works or not, having those results produced in a scientific manner moves us toward the goal of knowing how to protect our frontline workers. Given our broad clinical trials and translational research infrastructure, we are grateful to bring this type of large-scale effort to the COVID-19 battle,” DBusiness reported.

“Henry Ford Health System, as one of the region’s major academic medical centers with more than $100 million in annual research funding, is also involved in numerous COVID-19 trials with partners around the world,” DBusiness reported.

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