Could hydroxychloroquine stop coronavirus? Detroit is first in nation for study

Participants will receive either an antimalarial drug or a placebo in a first-of-its size trial by Henry Ford Health System, in an attempt to halt a deadly virus decimating Detroit and the world. (Facebook Live screenshot)

Henry Ford Health System will lead the first large-scale study in the nation to determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19.

“If this works out, we'll save the lives of first responders around the world,”  said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, in announcing the trial Thursday afternoon. 

“If this works out, we'll save the lives of first responders around the world,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said.

The Detroit-based hospital system seeks 3,000 health care workers and first responders for the study, which may determine whether the drug helps prevent COVID-19, especially among those most exposed to the deadly virus.

Rather than several months required for development and approval under normal circumstances, the effort took just 10 days, said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford’s chief clinical officer. It was fast-tracked after Duggan and metro Detroit health care providers pleaded with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval, according to Henry Ford officials.

The virus that has wreaked hell on metro Detroit has created an urgency unprecedented in memory. By midday Thursday, the Motor City reported 2,858 cases, including 101 deaths, or nearly a quarter of all deaths statewide, despite making up just 7 percent of the state population. The rest of Wayne County had 2,221 cases and almost as many deaths as the city (93). Nearby Oakland has 2,183 confirmed cases and 119 deaths; Macomb County reported 1,332 cases and 58 deaths.

The virus is decimating the ranks of Detroit’s first-responders. As of Thursday, 106 police department officers and employees, 24 fire department employees and firefighters, and eight employees of Detroit’s transportation department had been sidelined after testing positive for  COVID-19. Hundreds remain in quarantine, Duggan said in an afternoon news conference.

Related: Facing shortages, Michigan asks feds for experimental coronavirus drugs

Hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory diseases. Henry Ford doctors said it’s a relatively well-tolerated medicine. Serious side effects are rare, but common side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache and itching, according to Henry Ford. Mayo Clinic also offers a long list of symptoms that include dizziness, blurred vision and blistering.

Participants won’t know whether they’re receiving a regimen of hydroxychloroquine or a placebo. That allows researchers to tease out from the comparison groups whether the drug had an impact.

The FDA will provide hydroxychloroquine directly to Henry Ford physicians to distribute during the trial.

If researchers deem the drug effective as a preventative medication for COVID-19, the study may expand to determine whether hydroxychloroquine should be used in other COVID-19 treatment options, the doctors said. ​ 

Henry Ford cardiologist Dr. William W. O’Neill said previous studies have suggested that the drug may be effective against COVID-19, but the research so far “looks promising but not definitive.”

In fact, Henry Ford doctors have already been prescribing hydroxychloroquine off-label for some patients hospitalized with COVID-19. 

“We need this in our front lines for our Detroit police officers and EMTs, but also our health care workers, people in the emergency room and in our intensive care units, who are day in and day out, putting their lives on the line to protect our community,” said Dr. Steven Kalkanis, Henry Ford’s chief academic officer.

Despite the risks they face every day, “they do it willingly, and so we owe it to really define once and for all ‘Does this regimen work?’” he said.

Participants will give a blood sample and over eight weeks take a once-a-week dose of hydroxychloroquine or a placebo. They will be contacted weekly to report whether they develop symptoms of COVID-19, including dry cough, fever or breathing issues, and any medication side effects. They will have their blood drawn again at eight weeks so researchers can compare results between the drug and placebo groups.

“Nobody's promising any results here. We don't know,” Duggan said. “But what you've got is some of the finest scientists in America that believe this has potential, and the only way we're going to find out is to give it a try. It might not work but you might change the world,” he said.


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Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:54am

She can extend what she what’s but maybe she can approve unemployment for people that work full time that the unemployment agency keep waiting for 2 weeks to do it so, they told me from work I will start to work in 13 which is okay because at least I have an income but she is keep getting on tv with stay at home s..... but people are going fishing, shopping and .... I have not seen people staying home

Jim Fuscaldo
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 9:07am

The study, a double blind placebo cossover study, will unnecessarily expose those in the placebo group to the risk of contagion and becoming a symptom free "stealth carrier" during the virus incubation period to spread the infection.

Local Idiot
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 9:20am

Hydroxycloroquine isn't effective for treatment of Covid-19 in my opinion.

Also, the prescription of Zinc tablets without copper being administered to patients is a terrible idea.

Further the macro and micro diet in some of these hospitals is beyond a joke.

It's also possibly compromising patients health due to their lack of essential nutrients needed to maintain a healthy immune system and the bodies physiological response in maintaining a strong respiratory system.

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 10:22am

Not sure I would use Yahoo as a news source. If you want to see the possibilities of using Zinc with hydroxychloriquin start watching video at the 1:30 mark. Medcram is my source for Covid-19 information.

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 9:35am

Gretchen fell for the fake news and people died. Stop the politics and do what's right.

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 11:00am

"It was fast-tracked after Duggan and metro Detroit health care providers pleaded with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval, according to Henry Ford officials." It is sad that the lead to this story is about that whining is what pushed Detroit/Michigan to the head of the line.
Would like to think that is the quality of work/control of the testing program that moved Henry Ford Health System to the top of the list for such a valued effort, but when the reporter sees 'pleading' was what tipped the decision brings a shadow of doubt about why Detroit/Michigan. Is Michigan's program based on the politics of whining rather then the quality of judgement and the medical professionals, is it about the theatre of politics and a stage for politician visibility, is it a vehicle for Partisan politics steal the attention away media from those who are working with patients, who are supporting the care givers, who will be making the this testing credible, etc.
I think readers could gain much more practical understanding infrom hearing from those working with Covid 19 patients and how they use personal protective equipment, what are the challenges, how do they overcome them. I am tired of the politicians making their pronouncement about Michigan and nothing about how things are being done, how different parts of Michigan are doing and why they have more or less cases, etc.

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 10:46am

I Didnt Vote for this Govenor, I would never Vote for Her, And I believe like most Dems she is using this Virus to Push Her Social Medicine, Social Living,
Get everything from the Government Folks! That is her end Goal in my opinion!

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 11:25pm

I'm sorry this just is not true, The drug has been used for months by thousands of individuals all over the world. There are dozens of trials all over the US, this did not start 2 days ago in Michigan.

Fri, 04/10/2020 - 9:06am

In the study of Hydroxyquine , in the study proposed, investigating those who currently take Hydroxyquine for RA and Lupus? Do they have immunity already?

Boris Watson
Fri, 04/10/2020 - 10:01pm

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Josh Tomlinson
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 7:28am

My name is Josh Tomlinson, And I am a Registered Herbalist due to more recent research on the herbal remedies to COVID-19. I have made an effective approach from the old traditional Garcinia kola mix with other traditional home recipes in other to front COVID-19 virus. My traditional remedy has studied and has used to help life as patients who were infected have started gaining recovery.
I'm here to help the infected ones with our research of herbal remedies to COVID-19. open contact via ( and follow our Instagram page #safeline_safetydisposal ) regardless of your questions... I'm ready to give my beneficiary support.
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Wed, 04/22/2020 - 10:24pm

Detroit should worry less about hydroxychloroquine stopping the Wuhan coronavirus, and more about its perennial epidemic of flying bullets!

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 10:08am

The article on the double blind based study on hydroxychloriquin does not say, at least I didn't see it, if both groups or just one group received zinc with their regimen. The hydroxychloriquin is only part of the possible solution. The hydroxychloriquin acts as the gateway for zinc to enter the infected cellular membrane. Once the zinc is inside the cell it prevents the virus from replicating.