The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month warned against taking hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus outside a clinical trial or hospital because it could cause abnormal heart rhythms. 

Prof Llewelyn, professor in infectious diseases at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said he was fearful that Mr Trump’s enthusiasm for the drug could be counterproductive and deter some from taking part in the trial. 

“It makes it very difficult,” he told The Telegraph. “When you are running a clinical trial what you want is balance. We are working to a perfectly reasonable hypothesis, but until we run the trial we simply don’t know if it works. 

“When you get the kind of statements we are seeing [from Mr Trump] you get some people saying what the hell, I want to try it. Others start pushing back – you get a lot of publicity saying people might die when in fact its very safe if used in the right way.” 

Accord Healthcare, a UK-based medicines manufacturer, has donated over two million tablets to enable the trial to go ahead. 

Dr Anthony Grosso, the vice president and head of scientific affairs at Accord Europe and MENA, said: “Based on the known pharmacology of hydroxychloroquine, coupled with the emerging knowledge surrounding SARS-CoV-2 viral replication and Covid-19 pathophysiology, we were very keen to test the effectiveness of this molecule in a preventative rather than late-stage treatment setting. 

“A large-scale, prospective, randomised, double-blind clinical trial in a high-risk setting is the only way to robustly determine if this medicine can lessen or prevent human infection. 

“Previous studies have not adequately tested this hypothesis, and the results of COPCOV are therefore of critical importance to public health.”  

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