Professor Didier Raoult from infection hospital l'Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire (IHU) Méditerranée Infection in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), published a video explaining the trials on Monday, according to the Connexion.
Professor Raoult is an infectious diseases specialist and head of the IHU Méditerranée Infection, who has been tasked by - and consulted by - the French government to research possible treatments of COVID-19.
He said that the first COVID-19 patients he had treated with the drug chloroquine had seen a rapid and effective speeding up of their healing process, and a sharp decrease in the amount of time they remained contagious.
Chloroquine - which is normally used mainly to prevent and treat malaria - was administered via the named drug, Plaquenil.
The treatment was offered to 24 patients, who were among the first to become infected in the southeast of France, and who had voluntarily admitted themselves to hospital for the process.
Patients were given 600mcg per day for 10 days. They were closely monitored, as the drug can interact with other medication, and cause severe side effects in some cases.
Professor Raoult sai, “We included everyone who was in agreement (to be treated), which was almost everyone. Two towns in the protocol, Nice and Avignon, gave us (infected) patients who had not yet received treatment.
“We were able to ascertain that patients who had not received Plaquenil (the drug containing hydroxychloroquine) were still contagious after six days, but of those that had received Plaquenil, after six days, only 25% were still contagious.”
Chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine have previously been used to treat coronavirus patients in China, in ongoing COVID-19 clinical trials.
Kaletra, a US-based antiviral drug normally used to treat HIV, is another medicine that is being tested in the fight against COVID-19.
A new academic study, published on Friday by US scientific researchers, also said that chloroquine appeared to be an effective treatment, and appears to align with the findings in France.
It said, “Use of chloroquine (tablets) is showing favorable outcomes in humans infected with Coronavirus including faster time to recovery and shorter hospital stay…
“Research shows that chloroquine also has strong potential as a prophylactic (preventative) measure against coronavirus in the lab, while we wait for a vaccine to be developed.
“Chloroquine is an inexpensive, globally available drug that has been in widespread human use since 1945 against malaria, autoimmune and various other conditions…(it) can be prescribed to adults and children of all ages.
"It can also be safely taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers (and) has been widely used to treat human diseases, such as malaria, amoebiosis, HIV, and autoimmune diseases, without significant detrimental side effects.”
Researchers worldwide are continuing to work on developing a vaccine against COVID-19.
So far, no country - nor the World Health Organization (WHO) - has officially published treatment measures against COVID-19, but in China and South Korea, guidelines already outline the use of chloroquine as an “effective treatment”, the study report said.