Hydroxychloroquine ‘not an effective treatment’ for COVID-19, leads to longer hospital stays

The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment option for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The authors explored data from the RECOVERY (Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy) trial, a large randomized study focused on potential COVID-19 treatments and 28-day mortality. While more than 1,500 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were chosen at random to receive hydroxychloroquine, more than 3,000 received usual care. The mean patient age was 65.4 years old, 27% had a history of diabetes, 26% had a history of heart disease and 22% had a history of lung disease.

Overall, death at 28 days was recorded in 27% of patients from the hydroxychloroquine group and 25% of patients from the usual care group.

Patients in the hydroxychloroquine group were also found to experience “a longer duration of hospitalization” and “a lower probability of discharge alive within 28 days.”

“In this analysis of the RECOVERY trial, we determined that hydroxychloroquine was not an effective treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19,” wrote lead author Peter Horby, a professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford, and colleagues. “The lower boundary of the confidence limit for the primary outcome ruled out any reasonable possibility of a meaningful mortality benefit. The results were consistent across subgroups according to age, sex, race, time since illness onset, level of respiratory support, and baseline-predicted risk.”

The full assessment from the New England Journal of Medicine is available here.

The potential treatment of COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine has been one of the biggest stories of the entire pandemic, one that has been particularly interesting from a cardiovascular perspective. Read more about that strange story here.