Hydroxychloroquine linked to increased risk of death in COVID-19 patients

Grant Boone
May 22, 2020

At the end of the study period around nine per cent of those in the control group had died.

His comments set off a firestorm of controversy among health experts and physicians who urged the public not to take medications unless prescribed by a doctor.

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 worldwide attention as a possible treatment for warding off COVID-19, news station WISH reported.

Malaria drugs pushed by President Donald Trump as treatments for the coronavirus did not help and were tied to a greater risk of death and heart rhythm problems in a new study of almost 100,000 patients around the world.

In an offhand remark Monday, Trump revealed he had been taking hydroxychloroquine for more than a week, insisting "a lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy".

The participants of the trial would have to be healthcare workers who are in contact with COVID-19 patients, provided they have not been diagnosed with the disease themselves.

Researchers are searching through available options to treat the coronavirus, which has killed more than 330,000 people, including drugs like the antimalarials that are also already approved to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

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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Professor Landray said thousands of lives could be saved if a drug could reduce fatalities even by one fifth, however he believes that combination therapies may be needed.

The Lancet study looked at data from 671 hospitals, where 14,888 patients were given either hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, with or without the antibiotic macrolide, and 81,144 patients who were not treated with those drugs. For those who received hydroxychloroquine, it was 18%; when an antibiotic was added, it was more than 20%.

Even before these reports were published, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about using the drugs in coronavirus patients outside of clinical trials, and the National Institutes of Health Covid-19 treatment guidelines warned against using hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin together.

The drugs should only be used for Covid treatment as part of robust studies that will definitively show their impact, the researchers said. After controlling for risks such as weight, heart disease, and lung disease, the mortality rate in the control group was 9%. A study of 368 US veterans also showed that the drugs might be potentially harmful.

The drug Trump says can prevent Covid-19.

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

"Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19", the researchers wrote.

Kim said she's on the mend now from her battle against the bug - but warns others the drug alone won't protect them from the virus.

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