The epicenter of the United States’ COVID-19 pandemic has started clinical trials on pharmaceutical drugs that could potentially treat the virus. According to a news release by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the observational studies began on Tuesday.

Cuomo’s office said that the state of New York acquired 70,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine, 10,000 doses of Zithromax and 750,000 doses of chloroquine in the past few days in hopes of testing the results among patients suffering with the deadly coronavirus.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the governor showed confidence in the face of unprecedented concern. “We hope for optimistic results,” Cuomo said of the clinical trials. “The President and the FDA accelerated that drug coming to New York, so the hospitals will start using that drug today.” 

The drug chloroquine is examined in a Chinese lab
NANTONG, CHINA – FEBRUARY 27 2020: An employee checks the production of chloroquine phosphate, resumed after a 15-year break, in a pharmaceutical company in Nantong city in east China’s Jiangsu province. Chloroquine phosphate, an old drug for the treatment of malaria, has shown some efficacy and acceptable safety against COVID-19. (Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

In recent days, misinformation about chloroquine, spread by the White House, has led to the death of one Arizona man and the hospitalization of his wife. After Trump haphazardly announced that it was an FDA-approved drug to treat the illness, Nigeria also reported cases of hospitalizations from overdosing on the anti-malaria medication. Though the drug has given health officials a reason to believe that it could potentially lower the rate of infection throughout the country, chloroquine has not been proved to work.

Maggie Cadet, a New York City–based rheumatologist, told ESSENCE that scientists and researchers are investigating if Plaquenil or hydroxychloroquine, an old drug used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can help fight coronavirus, adding that some small clinical and lab studies have been conducted with good results. The NYU Langone–affiliated doctor says that she’s both “surprised and excited” to see this drug being used to help fight COVID-19. “I do use Plaquenil for my lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients already. This drug does modify the immune system response and does not have a significant risk of infections.”

New York has been hit particularly hard by the global pandemic, forcing the White House on Tuesday to issue a self-quarantine order for all those fleeing the state. “We remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area,” said Deborah Birx, M.D., the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator. “About 56 percent of all the cases in the United States are coming out of that metro area, and 60 percent of all the new cases are coming out of the metro New York area.”

New Yorkers also make up 31 percent of those succumbing to the disease in the United States. 

ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as for tips on taking care of yourselves, your families and your communities.

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