New study links hydroxychloroquine to increased risk of COVID-19 death

Trump's anti-malaria drug has high COVID-19 death risk

Trump's anti-malaria drug has high COVID-19 death risk

The agency's earlier advisory on March 23 had baffled some doctors, who said there was no evidence to support the preventive use of hydroxychloroquine on healthy healthcare workers.

In fact, hydroxychloroquine, as well as a related medicine, chloroquine, may even raise the risk for death and serious heart rhythm disorders in people who use it, an global team of researchers reported.

Trump's White House physician later released a statement, saying that the "benefit outweighed the potential risks" of the drug.

Instead, those who received one of the medications had a higher risk of death than those who did not take the medications. Each of the chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine drug regimens alone or in combination with a macrolide was associated with an increased risk of clinically significant onset of ventricular arrhythmias and an increased risk of hospital death with COVID-19.

"Treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with Covid-19", said Mandeep Mehra, lead author of the study and executive director of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Centre for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston.

The study is among the largest that have been conducted regarding the effectiveness of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19.

The drugs are approved for treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and for preventing and treating malaria, but no large rigorous tests have found them safe or effective for preventing or treating COVID-19.

"If drugs as well tolerated as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could reduce the chances of catching COVID-19 this would be incredibly valuable..."

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Babak Javid, an infectious disease expert at Tsinghua University School of Medicine in Beijing, said in a statement that the study "certainly casts a lot of doubt on whether these agents are effective in the environment in which these drugs are now used in COVID- 19 patients: seriously ill patients in the hospital ". The other 81,144 patients served as a control group. Since then, the evidence against any benefit has only grown, researchers said on Friday.

The highest rate (8%) was among patients given hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, compared with 0.3% of patients in the control group. "In the meantime, we suggest these drugs should not be used as treatments for COVID-19 outside of clinical trials".

Prior studies have concluded much the same.

In the study that looked at more than 96,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

Less than three hours before the ICMR issued its Friday advisory, United States researchers released a large study's findings that link hydroxychloroquine to increased rates of death and cardiac rhythm disorders among Covid-19 patients.

Britain has ordered $42 million worth of hydroxychloroquine, despite numerous studies showing it is ineffective in treating Covid-19 and may even be more unsafe than doing nothing.

About 9% of patients taking none of the drugs died in the hospital, versus 16% on chloroquine, 18% on hydroxychloroquine, 22% on chloroquine plus an antibiotic, and 24% on hydroxychloroquine plus an antibiotic. Christian Funck-Brentano, of Sorbonne University in Paris, wrote in a journal commentary accompanying the new study.

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