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WHO drops hydroxychloroquine from global study on COVID-19 treatments

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BANGKOK – The World Health Organization (WHO) said it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine — the malaria drug U.S. President Trump said he is taking — from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there would be a “temporary pause" on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial. The announcement came after a paper in the Lancet showed that people taking the drug were at higher risk of death and heart problems.

Still, several countries in Europe and North Africa are using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients. Brazil's Bolsonaro has ordered an army lab to boost its production of chloroquine.

Other treatments in the WHO study, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being pursued.

Read more: What we know about 2 drugs at center of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine research

Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.5 million people, killing over 346,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Europe has had about 170,000 deaths and the U.S. has seen nearly 100,000. Experts say the tally understates the real effects of the pandemic due to counting issues in many nations.