South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday that her state would be the first to begin a statewide clinical trial for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the novel Wuhan coronavirus sweeping the globe.
“From day one, I’ve said we’re going to let the science, facts, and data drive our decision-making,” Noem told Fox News in a statement.
The announcement comes days after talks with the White House where Noem told administration officials “that South Dakota’s medical community was ready to step up and lead the way on research efforts.”
Noem said she made “direct requests” to the president to provide “enough hydroxychloroquine so that it could be made available for every hospitalized person the state may have, as well as those for health care workers on the frontlines and those in the most vulnerable populations,” according to Fox.
“Today, I’m pleased to report we have received the initial doses we need, and thanks to the leadership of Sanford Health and the assistance of medical teams at Avera and Monument Health, we’re going to be the first state in the nation to do a comprehensive clinical trial to assess whether hydroxychloroquine can treat and perhaps even prevent COVID-19,” the governor told Fox.
Trump derangement syndrome turned the malaria medicine controversial last month when President Donald Trump touted the drug’s potential effectiveness in the battle against the coronavirus with very few negative side effects.
“It’s been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Trump said during a White House press briefing.
Days later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug for treatment in coronavirus-infected patients, and after media vilification of Trump’s comments pinning the tragic death of an uninfected man who ingested fish-tank cleaner in the absence of medical guidance on the president, the New York Times conceded that the medicine “helped speed the recovery in moderately ill patients.”
The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced last week that clinical trials had begun on a smaller scale last week among 500 patients hospitalized or in emergency rooms anticipating hospitalization over the virus in Tennessee.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House coronavirus task force team has maintained that health care providers should use caution when considering the drug as COVID-19 treatment.
“We still need to do the definitive studies to determine whether any intervention, not just this one, is truly safe and effective,” Fauci said on Fox News.