Novartis CEO: Too soon to say if malaria drug helps COVID-19

Friday, 27. March 2020 11:40

Chief executive officer of Novartis Vas Narasimhan cast doubt on Friday whether anti-malaria drugs could be an effective treatment for the coronavirus.

"With hydroxychloroquine, what we know is in pre-clinical studies, the drug is quite active against the coronavirus but these are, of course, not in human beings - not in patients," Narasimhan told CNBC.

"I do think it is too soon to know for sure until we have properly controlled randomized studies. We hope over the next 18 months to two years, we can come back with a vaccine that will ultimately be the definitive way to deal with this pandemic," he added.

Novartis is one of the major producers of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, the two anti-malaria drugs that US President Donald Trump singled out as potential treatments for COVID-19, which has infected over half a million people across the globe.

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