Trump's beloved hydroxychloroquine actually worsens the coronavirus

Yolanda Curtis
May 23, 2020

In the study that looked at over 96,000 people hospitalised with Covid-19, those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death than patients who were not given the medicines.

One of the findings of the current study seems hard to ignore: that the drugs increase the risk of unsafe disturbances in heart rhythms.

Researchers observed patients who were hospitalized with Covid-19 between December 20 and April 14. That study, funded in part by the United States government's National Institutes of Health, found higher overall mortality in coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine while in Veterans Administration hospitals.

According to the study published in the Lancet journal on Friday, all the four treatments were linked to a higher risk of death than those who were not administered any of those treatments.

But the authors stressed that anyone taking these drugs for other conditions should not stop taking them as the trial looked specifically at Covid-19.

Additional studies have cast doubts on how effective the drug might be in treating the novel coronavirus.

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. Of those treated with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone, around one in six patients had died (16.4%, 307/1,868 chloroquine and 18.0%, 543/3,016 hydroxychloroquine).

Trump said this week he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative medicine despite a lack of scientific evidence.

Arrhythmia's greatest risk was in the group who received hydroxychloroquine and a macrolide antibiotic such as azithromycin (8% versus 0.3% of controls), and this regimen was associated with a more than five-fold risk of developing an arrhythmia while hospitalized, though cause and effect can not be inferred, the group noted.

Demand for the decades-old hydroxychloroquine has surged as Trump repeatedly promoted its use against the coronavirus, urging people to try it.

Hydroxychloroquine is a commonly used drug to treat malaria, but has been dubiously linked to curing coronavirus. And what they found was increased risk of death and increased risk of heart issues. The study analyzed data from almost 15,000 patients with COVID-19 receiving a combination of any of the four drug regimens and 81,000 controls.

The drug US President Donald Trump said he was taking to ward off Covid-19 actually increases the risk of patients with the disease dying from it, a study in the Lancet has found.

"Urgent confirmation from randomised clinical trials is needed", they wrote. Of this population, 1,868 patients received chloroquine, 3,783 received chloroquine with a macrolide, 3,016 received hydroxychloroquine, and 6,221 received hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide. Former FDA official Peter Lurie added that the study is "another nail in the coffin for hydroxychloroquine, this time from the largest study ever conducted".

"We now know from our study that the chance that these medications improve outcomes in Covid-19 is quite low".

"Not only is there no benefit, but we saw a very consistent signal of harm", said one study leader, Dr. Mandeep Mehra, a heart specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

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