The federal government’s guidance on emergency usage of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients may have actually set the medication up for failure.That’s because the guidance limits the drug’s usage to those sick enough to be hospitalized. Many doctors suspect, however, that if the drug does turn out to be beneficial, it may work better early on in the course of the illness.Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak”That’s the case for any therapeutic,” Dr. George Diaz, an infectious disease specialist at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, said. “Generally the earlier you use it, the more effective it is.”Antiviral treatments work by reducing the amount of virus in the body. They’re best given early on, as symptoms are starting and the viral load is still low. For example, Tamiflu, an antiviral used to treat the flu, works better the earlier a person takes it.”When you give it to somebody who is already super sick, it’s likely not going to make an impact because the damage is already done,” said Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew, a pulmonologist in the critical care department at National Jewish Health, a hospital in Denver.At least anecdotally, a handful of critical care physicians across the country

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