Fauci: Data shows no evidence hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating coronavirus
Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said there’s no evidence that shows the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating COVID-19.
“Clearly the scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy for it,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, said during a CNN interview.
Fauci said evidence also shows the likelihood that the drug can cause severe irregular heart rhythms.
“There was suspicion of that for a while, but as data comes in, it becomes more clear,” Fauci said.
The pronouncements mark Fauci’s strongest warnings yet against the drug and puts him at odds with President Trump, who has embraced the drug as a “game changer” and a “miracle.”
Earlier this month, Trump even said he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, in combination with zinc, as a way to prevent getting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He called the research on hospitalized patients “a Trump enemy statement.”
“I think it gives you an additional level of safety,” Trump said at the time, downplaying warnings that the drug can cause heart problems in certain patients.
To date, Fauci has told Americans not to assume the drug could be a “knockout” against the virus, because the clinical evidence on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine was lacking.
Earlier this month, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Fauci leads, announced a 2,000-patient study to determine whether hydroxychloroquine, when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, “can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”
“Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data from a large randomized, controlled clinical trial,” Fauci said in a statement announcing the trial.
Hydroxychloroquine has shown no real benefit for hospitalized coronavirus patients and may have contributed to some deaths, recent studies show.
Some scientists and doctors are even calling for the Food and Drug Administration to revoke an emergency waiver it granted in March to accept millions of doses of the drug for use in hospitals where clinical trials are unavailable or infeasible.
The agency issued a warning roughly a month later that the drug should not be taken outside of a hospital or clinical setting because of the risk of developing heart rhythm problems.