Hydroxychloroquine 'offers no benefit' to hospital patients with Covid-19

Hydroxychloroquine 'offers no benefit' to hospital patients with Covid-19

The difficulty with observational (sometimes called "real-world") studies is that, often, the patients whom doctors choose to treat with a drug are different - in this case, probably sicker - than those who go untreated.

The woman, who asked to only be referred to as Kim, said she had felt safer knowing that the anti-malaria drug, which she has taken for 19 years to help with her lupus, was gaining global attention as a possible treatment for warding off COVID-19, news station WISH reported.

It comes just days after the USA president's decision to take hydroxychloroquine was described as "a staggering, irresponsible act that could very well also amount to self-harm" and there are fears his actions risk running down supplies of the drug for people with other conditions who need it.

It comes after President Donald Trump was criticized earlier this week by health experts for unexpectedly announcing he had been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a "week and a half".

Further, the researchers concluded that they were unable to "confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for 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 Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston.

It can reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling - and is widely used to treat rheumatic diseases.

The study looked at the records of 15,000 people who had been treated with the antimalarials and one of two antibiotics that have sometimes been paired with them.

The Post noted the study is the largest analysis of the risk and benefits of treating those infected with the coronavirus with antimalarial drugs.

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The team also found that serious cardiac arrhythmias, which cause the lower chamber of the heart to beat rapidly and irregularly, were more common in all the groups receiving one of the four treatment regimens.

Mehra said in a statement these drugs should not be used as treatments for COVID-19 outside of clinical trials.

The Lancet study analysed data from nearly 15,000 patients with Covid-19 receiving the drugs and 81,000 people who did not.

Patients who were given hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, a combination Trump has touted, had a 45% increase in risk of death and a 411% increase in risk of heart arrhythmias, the study found.

Dr. Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the school of medicine at the University of Leeds, also said those that follow Trump's example might not only endanger themselves, "but could also deprive patients with chronic autoimmune conditions of their much-needed medication". After controlling for risks such as weight, heart disease, and lung disease, the mortality rate in the control group was 9%. Like all drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have side effects.

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

"Furthermore, it is clear that high-profile endorsements of taking these drugs without clinical oversight are both misguided and irresponsible".

Tests to determine whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 is open to staff in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals and at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital.

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