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Hydroxychloroquine does not reduce deaths from COVID-19, and probably does not reduce the number of people needing mechanical ventilation, state the authors of a new Cochrane Review. In addition, they note that no new trials of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for treating COVID-19 should be started.
Lead author Dr Bhagteshwar Singh, a Clinical Research Fellow at the University’s Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences explained: “Early in the pandemic, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had been put forward as potential drugs for treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
“Evidence from initial studies was inadequate, but more recent reports from larger trials meant we could conclude in our review that hydroxychloroquine is not beneficial for patients with COVID-19 who require care in hospital.
“The evidence is less clear for prevention of COVID-19 and for people being treated as outpatients. However, with no benefit when used for treatment of severe COVID-19, a benefit in these situations is unlikely.”
Senior author Dr Tom Fletcher, a Senior Clinical Lecturer at LSTM, added: “This review certainly should put a line under using this drug to treat COVID-19, but some countries and health providers are still caught up in the earlier hype and prescribing the drug. We hope this review will help these practices end soon.”
Authors based in India, South Africa, and the UK (University of Liverpool, LSTM, Royal Liverpool University Hospital Liverpool) searched for studies that examined giving chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to people with COVID-19; people at risk of being exposed to the virus; and people who had been exposed to the virus.
The review included 14 relevant studies: 12 studies of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine used to treat COVID-19 in 8569 adults; and two studies of hydroxychloroquine to stop COVID-19 in 3346 adults who had been exposed to the virus but had no symptoms of infection. Included studies were from China (4); Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Spain, Taiwan, the UK, and North America (each 1 study); and a global study in 30 countries (1 study). Some studies were partly funded by pharmaceutical companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine.
Singh B, Ryan H, Kredo T, Chaplin M, Fletcher T. Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for prevention and treatment of COVID‐19. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD013587. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013587.pub2
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