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Nursing home doctor says he successfully treated 39 coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine

'All the patients have done well'

Dr. Robin Armstrong, medical director of The Resort in Texas City, Texas. (Image source: WFAA-TV video screenshot)

A nursing home medical director in Texas said he has used hydroxychloroquine sulfate to treat 39 coronavirus patients, and all of them are doing well after five days, WFAA-TV reported.

Dr. Robin Armstrong, the medical director at The Resort nursing home in Texas City, said he decided to try the drug when faced with the real possibility that a significant portion of the nursing home's residents could die — 56 of them tested positive for the coronavirus. Because COVID-19 is especially dangerous to the elderly and those with certain underlying health problems, nursing home coronavirus outbreaks have been particularly fatal in the United States.

Armstrong said none of the patients has displayed any side effects from hydroxychloroquine, and that some of them have improved enough that they've been able to go outside for the first time since starting the treatment. He emphasized that it is not a cure for the coronavirus, but a way to ease the symptoms and help patients recover.

Hydroxychloroquine is a decades-old anti-malarial drug that has shown potential in some situations as an effective treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. It has not, however, been clinically approved for that purpose, and President Donald Trump's endorsement of the drug has led to a political, as well as a medical, debate.

Armstrong is a Republican and a supporter of President Donald Trump, WFAA reported, but Armstrong still said he was initially skeptical about hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment because the World Health Organization didn't view it as effective.

While some have framed the hydroxychloroquine debate in political terms, the idea that it might be an effective COVID-19 treatment didn't originate with the president. Doctors and researchers around the world have identified promising examples of hydroxychloroquine helping COVID-19 patients—and since there are still no approved treatments for the disease and no vaccine, some doctors view it as the best option.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for coronavirus treatment last month. Earlier this week, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) announced that her state would become the first to conduct a full clinical trial to test the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine.

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