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In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Dr. Manny Alvarez said on Friday that he is “bullish” on the anti-malaria drug chloroquine phosphate because the preliminary results have shown that it can decrease the “viral load.”
“It has a good scientific functionality when it comes to viruses entering the cell and is a drug that we have a lot of experience with,” Alvarez told “America’s Newsroom.”
Alvarez went on to say, “If we continue to show promise that this is a pathway to treatment and to prevention, it’s going to really change and make that whole window a little bit shorter.”
Alvarez's comments came after the drug chloroquine, a drug that has been used to prevent and treat malaria, showed promise in being a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus sweeping the globe, President Trump said Thursday.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a multicountry clinical trial of four drugs as possible COVID-19 treatments -- one of those drugs is chloroquine.
Chloroquine is widely available now and could be used off-label, but FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn explained that officials want a formal study to get good information on its safety and effectiveness. The drug was first used to treat malaria in 1944.
"We're looking at drugs that are already approved for other indications" as a potential bridge or stopgap until studies are completed on other drugs under investigation, Hahn said.
Earlier on Friday morning, Dr. Mehmet Oz expressed similar optimism about the potential treatment.
“We have to give science a chance to win. ... Can you imagine if COVID-19 behaved like the flu virus? Would we be doing this? No, so let’s give science a chance to make this come into fruition," he said, urging all Americans to socially distance themselves to "bend the curve" on how quickly the virus is spreading.
Fox News' Christopher Carbone contributed to this report.