Chloroquine paradox may cause more damage than help fight COVID-19.
Novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the most recent health care crisis without specific prophylactic or therapeutic drugs. Antimalarial drug chloroquine (CHL) and its safer derivative hydroxychloroquine (HCHL) have been proposed to be repurposed to treat SARS coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19. CHL/HCHL have anti-inflammatory activity and are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and lupus. Although, CHL/HCHL have an anti-viral activity against several viruses in cell-cultures, the anti-viral activity in-vivo is questionable. Repurposing of CHL/HCHL to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection is appealing. However, there is empirical evidence from animal studies with other viruses suggesting that CHL/HCHL may have an untoward paradoxical effect. One thus cannot exclude the possibility that CHL may increase the severity of the disease and prove deleterious both for the patients and public health efforts to contain the highly contagious and explosive spread of SARS-CoV-2.