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A worldwide task force led by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) released COVID‐19: Interim Guidance on Management Pending Empirical Evidence, a suggestions list for clinicians treating COVID-19 patients. The group is upfront about calling its guideline points "suggestions" rather than "recommendations" because much is yet to be known about COVID-19 and there is limited empirical evidence available at this time.

One noteworthy suggestion from their list is about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs that have typically been used to prevent or treat malaria. The drugs are controversial, given that there's only limited and anecdotal evidence on their effect on COVID-19. They suggested that hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine should only be used on a hospitalized COVID-19 patient with pneumonia on a case-by-case basis and if all four of these points apply:

  • shared decision-making is possible
  • data can be collected for interim comparisons of patients who received hydroxychloroquine (or chloroquine) versus those who did not
  • the illness is sufficiently severe to warrant investigational therapy
  • the drug is not in short supply
The evidence around these drugs and their use to treat COVID-19 is contradictory and debated among experts. That being said, in a press release about the ATS suggestions, Kevin C. Wilson, MD, chief of Guidelines and Documents at the ATS, said, "We suggest that, if the drug is prescribed, that it be done in the context of data collection for research. We believe that in urgent situations like a pandemic, we can learn while treating by collecting real-world data."

Read the full suggestions list.

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