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30 Jul 2020

AustralaSian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT) removes hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir arms of the trial

Following reports that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir are not effective in reducing mortality from COVID-19, the AustralaSian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT) Steering Committee has also made the decision to remove the hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir arms of the Trial.

The new evidence was reported through two media releases from a large and well-designed study conducted by Oxford University and the World Health Organization.

“We have made this decision based on the reports of the UK study, plus growing evidence from several smaller studies showing hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir are not effective in treating COVID-19,” Associate Professor Tong said.

In further advances in treating COVID-19 in Australia, the antiviral drug remdesivir has shown to be effective in reducing the time to recovery, and is now considered the standard of care for patients in hospital with hypoxia (low oxygen levels). In addition, dexamethasone – a steroid agent – has been shown in a large overseas trial to reduce mortality of patients and is being broadly used as part of standard of care in hospitals.

“With remdesivir now available, study sites have indicated a strong preference to use remdesivir rather than the agents that were available in ASCOT – hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir,” Associate Professor Tong said.

ASCOT is a clinical trial that will generate clinical evidence about treatment for COVID-19 that can be applied during the pandemic to reduce mortality or the need for mechanical ventilation in hospitalised but not yet critically ill patients with COVID-19.