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Hydroxychloroquine proves ineffective against COVID-19 in newest trial

Published on 17/07/20 at 10:01am
U.S. Army photo by Jason W. Edwards

The newest clinical trial into hydroxychloroquine has proved unsuccessful in treating coronavirus patients.

A recent study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and showed the results of a randomised study conducted between 22 March and 20 May. Conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, 491 patients were either given hydroxychloroquine or a placebo within the first four days of them showing coronavirus symptoms.

The researchers did find that patients who experienced symptoms for over two weeks was 6% lower in those taking the drug and there were no significant differences in either hospitalisations or deaths. But people taking the treatment did experience far more side effects, with 43% of the group taking the treatment experiencing side effects versus 22% of the placebo group.

The study summarized: “To our knowledge, this is the first randomised clinical trial investigating treatment of COVID-19 outpatients. This builds on other randomised trial data on hydroxychloroquine, which have not shown any benefit for postexposure prophylaxis or for treatment of hospitalised patients.

“In addition, after this trial was completed, in vivo animal models have reported no hydroxychloroquine activity against COVID-19 in hamsters, ferrets and primates.”

The initial evidence that pointed to hydroxychloroquine working as a coronavirus treatment came from France, with Professor Didier Raoult’s study of 36 people. Raoult said he cured 100% of the patients but left out that six dropped out after the first six days and they either died, were transferred to the ICU or couldn't tolerate the drug.

A study in Brazil was called off after it suffered 11 fatalities while another Chinese study showed that hydroxychloroquine did not speed up recovery from the coronavirus.

The results of another study into the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients has cast further doubts on its effectiveness in treating the virus. The research, titled the “Observational Study of Hydroxychloroquine in Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19”, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers concluded that: “Hydroxychloroquine administration was not associated with either a greatly lowered or an increased risk of the composite end point of intubation or death. Randomized, controlled trials of hydroxychloroquine in patients with Covid-19 are needed.”

Conor Kavanagh

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