(NEW YORK POST) – A Connecticut dad said the malaria drug chloroquine helped him recover from a severe coronavirus infection, according to a new report.
Chris Tillett, 45, the first confirmed COVID-19 patient in the state, was in a medically induced coma for 10 days at Danbury Hospital after the illness ravaged his body, leaving him with bilateral pneumonia, the Connecticut Post reported.
Doctors used several different drug protocols to treat Tillett — who has twin infant sons — but he said a combination of chloroquine with the HIV anti-viral drug Kaletra worked best.
Tillett’s wife, Elizabeth, told the paper her husband was on Kaletra from the beginning, and was also given the medication Lasix to remove fluid from his lungs. Elizabeth, a nurse, was consulted every time he received a new medication.
When doctors first tried the chloroquine, “there was not an immediate noticeable response,” Elizabeth said.
Just as Chris’ condition started to turn around, doctors were about to switch him to Remdesivir, known as an Ebola treatment, she said.
“There was no anecdotal magic bullet,” Elizabeth told the outlet. “I think the supportive care that allowed his body to fight the virus could have very well been what helped him overcome COVID-19. There are no control groups of people getting nothing, so it’s hard to say.”
The drug, which is also used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other illnesses, has been touted by President Trump as a promising coronavirus therapy. But some experts have cautioned against calling chloroquine a miracle cure.
It can cause major cardiac issues and have serious interactions with some antidepressants, Summer Johnson McGee, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, told the paper.
The benefits and risks of using it to treat COVID-19 have also not been completely researched, McGee added.
“People should know that it hasn’t been well studied and we don’t yet know if it is effective,” she said. “There is no reason to ask your doctor to order this prescription for you or for people to stockpile the drug.”
But Elizabeth said she’s eager to tell others — who have emailed her and reached out on social media — about her husband’s success story.
“I’ve tried to respond to every single one either through a message, email, or phone call,” she told the paper. “I want people to know what worked for him, and hope either his protocol or something else will be equally as effective for them or their loved one.”