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Henry Ford Health System Will Study the Effectiveness of Anti-Malarial Drug on COVID-19

The Detroit Hospital is Chosen to be the First U.S. Hospital to Begin a Large-Scale Study on the Drug


Henry Ford Health Systems will be the first U.S. hospital to conduct large scale tests on antimalarial drug Hydroxychloroquine, and its effectiveness in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The “Will Hydroxychloroquine Impede or Prevent COVID-19,” or WHIP COVID-19 Test will look at the usefulness of the drug in preventing the spread of COVID-19 among first responders, and will utilize volunteers who are healthcare workers or first responders in its testing.

The drug, Hydroxychloroquine, which has been touted by President Trump has a treatment for the disease, is a U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved arthritis medicine that is also used to prevent or treat malaria. Henry Ford Health System doctors are currently prescribing the drug as an off-label treatment used only by sick and hospitalized, COVID-19-positive patients. The aim of the study would be to determine whether the drug, used somewhat in treatment, would also work to prevent the virus.

“To produce relevant results, a study like this needs to be conducted in a geographic area with active COVID-19,” shared Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Henry Ford Health System in a press release.

“Unfortunately, we’re now a hot spot in the United States. But Detroit has always been the comeback city. Detroit turned car factories into tank factories and won World War II. Detroit stands for resilience. Detroit will lead the country in our war against COVID-19. Our hospital workers and first responders are heroes, reporting to duty every day in spite of COVID-19. And while this is only a study of an unproven medication – there are no proven cures or preventative treatments for COVID-19 – we owe it to them to look for ways to protect them.”

Henry Ford Health System, which receives around $100 million in annual funding for testing, has already involved in numerous COVID-19 trials with partners around the world. At the present moment, there are at least 25 studies either underway or being reviewed at their hospitals as part of the fight to treat or prevent COVID-19.

“Given our broad clinical trials and translational research infrastructure, we are grateful to bring this type of large-scale effort to the COVID-19 battle,” added Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System, in the press release put out.

At the moment, the WHIP COVID-19 Test is operating solely with volunteers, and hospital healthcare workers within the Metro Detroit area will be able to volunteer to participate. Those who are working in part of the Detroit COVID Consortium, a recently announced healthcare collaboration on COVID-19 using research from Henry Ford Health System, Ascension, DMC, Wayne State University, and Beaumont, will also be able to take part in the study.


  • Being a badged employee of a southeast Michigan hospital system
  • Badged City of Detroit first responders
  • Badged bus drivers of the Detroit Department of Transportation
  • Age between 18-75
  • Not currently exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms
  • Never previously diagnosed with COVID-19
  • No significant heart or retinal disease
  • No one who is pregnant or nursing

Due to limited enrollment capacity, not everyone who applies to take part will be eligible for enrollment in the study. More information for those interested in taking part can be found here.

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