Will hydroxychloroquine help fight COVID-19? This trial is trying to find out

Doctors study possible virus treatment touted by Trump
Doctors study possible virus treatment touted... 02:05

Hydroxychloroquine, which is usually used to treat malaria, has been championed by President Trump for the treatment of COVID-19. But doctors say it's too early to be sure, and small studies have had mixed results. 

Dr. Wesley Self at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is leading a clinical trial to see if it really works. "Hydroxychloroquine may help prevent the virus from entering cells in the body and therefore prevent it from replicating more or growing within the body," Self explained. 

Tisha Holt, 42, is one of the first people who enrolled. She's been in the Vanderbilt ICU for four days. 

She told Self that she feels "weak," and that she has a lot of chest tightness and is "very sick." 

"I want it to work," Self said. "I see that it has promise but I also understand most promising drugs that are at this stage of research do not ultimately work."

The drug may raise the risk of an irregular heartbeat, but it has generally been a safe medication. Doctors and patients like Holt don't know who is receiving the drug and who is getting a placebo — the gold standard in research. 

"If I can do something to help then I want to do it," Holt said, "and makes me feel better to help someone else." 

  • Jon Lapook
    Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook