Toxicologist says anti-malaria drugs show 'promise' in treating coronavirus

Malaria drugs are showing "promising" initial results as a potential coronavirus treatment, a toxicologist and economic researcher said Saturday.

Appearing on "Fox & Friends Weekend," Dr. Chris Martenson said the experimental drugs -- including hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin -- were made available on Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration.

Although chloroquine has a "spotty past" and is unsafe at certain levels, Martenson noted that at the levels used in studies, the drug seems to "be reasonably safe" and works by allowing zinc to stop viruses from replicating.

In addition, azithromycin could potentially stop secondary infections in damaged lungs, he said.

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Martenson, however, warned there are plenty of unknowns.

"Unfortunately, we don't know a lot yet about how this is really going to behave in the patient population because the studies in question just involved a couple of dozen people," he said.

.Martenson, a futurist and co-founder of PeakProsperity.com, said that while a small number of patients saw viral loads going down, long-term effects have yet to be revealed.

"What we don't know yet is how much better are these patients actually fairing from a long-term outcome?" he said."And let's be clear about this: This is not a cure. We don't know if it works on a preventative basis yet. But what this does is it seems to give a better outcome once in the clinic."

In the next couple of weeks, Martenson told the "Fox & Friends" hosts there would be expanded trials with the malaria drugs.

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"We are going to want to test this against all sorts of different patient populations, different co-morbidities. We are going to want to track the safety of profiles very, very carefully," he said. "So, in essence, we are going to be running basically live clinical trials on this at this point in time. And there, we are looking for both efficacy and safety, and we need to be really tracking very carefully what the outcomes are."

Caveats aside, Martenson added: "This is the most promising thing I have seen so far."