According to a major study published in The Lancet, neither chloroquine nor its derivative hydroxychloroquine proves effective against Covid-19 in hospitalized patients. Researchers even point to an increased risk of death and arrhythmia.
Donald Trump may take hydroxychloroquine every day as a prevention against Covid-19, but its effectiveness has yet to be proven. On the contrary, a large study published Friday in the very serious medical journal The Lancet shows that neither chloroquine nor its derivative hydroxychloroquine would be effective against Covid-19 in hospitalized patients. Worse, these molecules even increase the risk of death and heart rhythm.
Performed on nearly 15,000 patients, this is the “first large-scale study” that shows “robust statistical evidence” that these two treatments that get so much ink flow “do not benefit Covid-19 patients,” Dr. Mandeep Mehra, the study’s lead author, in a statement.
These patients received four different combinations based on chloroquine (an antimalarial) and hydroxychloroquine (prescribed for example for rheumatoid arthritis). The treatments were either administered alone or combined with a macrolide antibiotic.
The study analyzed data from approximately 96,000 patients infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus admitted to 671 hospitals between December 20, 2019 and April 14, 2020, discharged or then killed. About 15,000 of them received one of the four combinations (chloroquine alone or in combination with the antibiotic, hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with the same antibiotic), then these four groups were compared with the 81,000 patients in control group n who did not receive this treatment.
Results: the four treatments were all associated with a much higher risk of mortality than in the control group (which was 9.3%): 16.4% of deaths for chloroquine alone, 22.2% when combined with the antibiotic; 18% for hydroxychloroquine alone, 23.8% when combined with the same antibiotic.
The authors estimate that the risk of mortality is 34% to 45% higher in patients taking these treatments than in patients with comorbidity factors, ie risk factors.
They also detected more severe cardiac arrhythmias more frequently in patients receiving chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, especially with the hydroxychloroquine / macrolide combination (8% of patients versus 0.3% in the control group).
The risk of arrhythmia would ultimately be five times higher with the intake of these two molecules, although the cause and effect link are not directly proven, explains the authors who ask for “urgent” confirmation by randomized clinical trials (patients selected by party) before concluding .
Pointing out that preliminary small-scale studies have already “failed to identify robust evidence of benefit” from these two treatments, “we now know from our study that the chances of improving” the condition of Covid-19 patients “are quite thin,” Dr. Frank Ruschitzka, from Zurich University Hospital, co-author.
While several countries like Brazil are investing in the use of chloroquine and its derivatives, the study recommends that these treatments not be administered outside clinical trials.
Hydroxychloroquine is currently being tested in several clinical trials, including the European Discovery trial.