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Cook County Health First in Illinois and One of Six in the U.S. to Investigate Hydroxychloroquine in Conjunction with and without Azithromycin in Non-Hospitalized Patients

Cook County Health is one of six sites participating in a clinical trial investigating whether hydroxychloroquine, a commonly used antimalarial and autoimmune drug, can prevent disease progression among mildly symptomatic patients with COVID-19. Along with the University of Washington, Boston Medical Center, NYU Langone Health, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Tulane University, Cook County Health infectious disease experts will look at the effectiveness of the widely discussed drug hydroxychloroquine in conjunction with and without azithromycin to prevent hospitalizations in less severe COVID-19 patients, as well as decrease lung infections, in a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

Hydroxychloroquine has received a fair amount of attention as a possible treatment for COVID-19. However, the drug is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat autoimmune diseases and malaria, and there are currently no drugs approved to treat COVID-19 among patients who are not hospitalized. Hydroxychloroquine has been used since the early 1950s to prevent malaria and treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Hydroxychloroquine has a long track record of safety for these conditions and is being studied in various doses for the prevention of COVID-19.

“There has been a lot of speculation as to whether hydroxychloroquine can treat or prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. Sybil Hosek, Director of Research for the Department of Psychiatry at Cook County Health and principal site investigator of the trial. “We currently don’t know if hydroxychloroquine works because rigorous clinical trials have yet to be completed, but we hope to learn the answer to this question in as short a timeframe as possible. The goal of this study is to try to find an effective treatment of COVID-19.”

The study is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the University of Washington.

Trial participants are randomly assigned to take hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin. Study participants must test positive for COVID-19 in the last 72 hours, not be hospitalized for COVID-19 and be between the ages of 18 to 80.

All study visits will be conducted via telehealth and web-based surveys. Medication will be shipped to the participant’s home, including tools to help track their symptoms. The Cook County Health study team will follow up for approximately four weeks to closely monitoring the patient’s progress.

For more information on the study, please visit www.covid19treatmentstudy.org. To sign up for the trial, call 312-869-4289 or complete an eligibility survey at https://redcap.link/covid19tx_prescreen.

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