Trump's beloved hydroxychloroquine actually worsens the coronavirus

Henrietta Strickland
May 23, 2020

Professor Mandeep Mehra, lead author of the study and executive director of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Centre for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston in the USA, said: "This is the first large scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with Covid-19".

On April 24, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine "outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems".

The worldwide study analyzed data from more than 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients from 671 hospitals across six continents during the period between late December and mid-April.

They compared the outcomes for almost 15,000 patients who had been treated with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine - either alone or in combination with antibiotics - with more than 81,000 patients who had not been treated with any of those drugs.

Patients who were administered any of the four treatments developed serious cardiac arrhythmia, which refers to a condition in which the lower chamber of the heart beats rapidly and irregularly. The published study also failed to conclude the drug added any benefit for coronavirus patients. It is known that the drug can cause heart irregularities, but many have claimed it is safe because of its long use treating malaria. And a Brazilian study was shut down after two deaths and heart problems among patients who got a high dose of chloroquine.

"We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19", the researchers wrote in the study's interpretation. Retail sales of hydroxychloroquine reportedly soared in March, the month Trump called the drug a "game changer" for treating coronavirus.

According to the CNN report, approximately 1 in 11 patients in the control group died in the hospital.

"It should not be used in the general population to prevent or to treat Covid-19 infection".

The large observational study included records of 96,032 patients from 671 hospitals in six continents. There was also a 45 percent increased risk of death and a 411 percent increased risk of heart arrhythmias for those given the drug with and an additional antibiotic.

Moreover, risks for both in-hospital mortality and ventricular arrhythmia were even higher compared to controls when either drug was combined with a macrolide antibiotic, they noted. He told reporters that he has been taking the drug, in combination with azithromycin, for over a week.

White House doctor Dr. Sean Conley published a note on Monday stating that after discussing the pros and cons of hydroxychloroquine, he and Trump came to the conclusion that the potential benefit of the drug over the relative risks of using it.

The researchers found that the mortality rate was the highest among those 6,221 patients who received hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (23.8%), while the treatment of coronavirus with hydroxychloroquine alone in a group comprising 3,016 patients resulted in an 18% death rate.

Results from some of the first large, randomized studies of hydroxychloroquine are expected soon, including a study being conducted by the French government and one at the University of Minnesota.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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