A vaccine for COVID-19 still might be almost within the grasp of healthcare systems, but an effective treatment still eludes experts. However, controlled studies show that there are several medications that might have the potential to combat advanced stages of the disease. Meanwhile, there is a growing concern from public health officials regarding published results. It seems that an alarming number of people purchasing the medicine that are yet to be officially approved for use without supervision from a medical professional.

The drugs in questions are the debated Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine. Normally, these are used to treat patients with malaria and other autoimmune conditions. After controversial statements from U.S. President Donald Trump and renowned CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk, data shows there is a remarkable upsurge of interest surrounding the aforementioned items. Both previously highlighted the alleged effectiveness against COVID-19.

Given the potentially dangerous side effects it may have on people with pre-existing conditions, Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine should never be administered without a doctor's approval. The Independent reports that scientists from universities such as UC San Diego, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Oxford have collectively pointed out an upsetting rise of attempts to purchase the drugs in question, online.

Their investigations revealed that shortly after the praises from Musk and Trump, online searches and even transactions have shot up significantly. Johns Hopkins University Associate Professor Dr. Mark Dredze stated: "In absolute terms, we estimate there were more than 200,000 total Google searches for buying these two drugs in only 14 days following high-profile endorsements. This could be evidence that thousands of Americans were interested in purchasing these drugs."

As such they are urging high-profile people to refrain from preemptively endorsing medication that has not been cleared for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine are just one of the many drugs that have been promoted by doctors around the world.

coronavirus pandemic
A healthcare worker collects a nasal swab sample from a migrant worker for testing for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Singapore Photo: AFP / Roslan RAHMAN

Favipiravir, which is distributed under the brand Avigan, is another antiviral drug that was purportedly used by Chinese doctors to treat COVID-19 with promising results. Clinical trials for potential vaccines and treatments are currently being conducted in several countries across the globe.