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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Oracle to provide platform to gauge malaria drug effectiveness vs. COVID-19

An Oracle platform will enable the US government to run clinical trials to see if two malaria drugs should be approved to treating COVID-19.

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Oracle will provide a platform that will enable the US government to run clinical trials to see if two malaria drugs should be approved to treating COVID-19, according to sources close to the discussions.

The New York Times reported that Oracle and the White House were in talks about the platform. ZDNet confirmed those talks.

Details about the Oracle platform are still being worked out, but the general sketch is that the platform would enable the Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to analyze COVID-19 treatment with the malaria drugs.

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President Trump has touted the use of the malaria drugs -- chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine -- against COVID-19. However, more testing is required. Oracle's platform would track treatments, collect data from the field and store information on patient symptoms.

This data repository will be critical to determining effectiveness of the pair of malaria drugs given most evidence is anecdotal at this time. The Centers for Disease Control said the malaria drugs have been used on patients on an "uncontrolled basis in multiple countries."

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are oral prescription drugs that have been used for treatment of malaria and certain inflammatory conditions. Chloroquine has been used for malaria treatment and chemoprophylaxis, and hydroxychloroquine is used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and porphyria cutanea tarda. Both drugs have in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and other coronaviruses, with hydroxychloroquine having relatively higher potency against SARS-CoV-2 [1,4,5]. A study in China reported that chloroquine treatment of COVID-19 patients had clinical and virologic benefit versus a comparison group, and chloroquine was added as a recommended antiviral for treatment of COVID-19 in China [6]. Based upon limited in-vitro and anecdotal data, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries.   

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