Treatment with the antimalarial drugs chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not help in Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital. This is again evident from scientific research, this time a very large study done among more than 96,000 Covid patients. The study, published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet, is yet another that shows that the benefits of these pills against Covid-19 do not outweigh the risks.
The study compared the effect of different treatments afterwards. Of the patients in the large control group (with over 81,000 patients), about one in eleven died; in the chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine group, one in six died. In the patient group where the antimalarial drugs were given in combination with an antibiotic, mortality was even higher: ranging from one in five to even one in four.
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The interpretation of the comparison between different groups remains difficult, because doctors may have tended to give extra treatment to the patients who were worst off with the antimalarial drugs. That would distort the results. Randomized studies are needed to randomize the participating patients into a treatment or control group.
Chloroquine treatment came to interest after Chinese researchers showed in cell cultures that the drugs inhibit infection with the new coronavirus. The drugs are cheap and easy to administer because they exist in pill form.
But that initial enthusiasm quickly evaporated when the results in patients were disappointing. In addition, it has been shown to increase the risk of arrhythmias in some patients.
“The new study again points out that the administration of chloroquines is associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and an increased risk of death,” said Mandeep Mehra, research leader at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease. in Boston. “These drugs should no longer be given to Covid-19 patients outside of randomized scientific studies.”
US President Trump said earlier that he has a lot of faith in chloroquines as cheap drugs against corona. Trump also said last week that he had been taking the pills preventively for a few weeks. In general, doctors do not recommend that type of use, due to the risk of arrhythmias. As far as known, there are no scientific studies that map whether preventive swallowing against corona is sensible and safe.