Public/Global Health

Study shows hydroxychloroquine did not prevent coronavirus in health care workers

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A new study has found that hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that President Trump said he took to ward off the coronavirus, did not prevent COVID-19 among health care workers.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, was conducted at two urban hospitals between April 9 and July 13 among 132 full-time health care workers exposed to the virus. However, the trial was ended early.

Some participants were given 600 mg daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, while others were given a placebo for eight weeks.

“There was no significant difference in infection rates in participants randomized to receive hydroxychloroquine compared with placebo,” the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania wrote.

Four of the 64 health care workers who were randomly given hydroxychloroquine ended up testing positive for COVID-19 and four of the 61 health care workers who were given a placebo tested positive.

Among those eight participants who tested positive, six developed viral symptoms. None required hospitalization and they all clinically recovered from the illness, according to the study.

“As such, we cannot recommend the routine use of hydroxychloroquine among [health care workers] to prevent COVID-19,” researchers concluded.

The findings of the newly released study appear similar to what was reported in a June study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness when used within four days of being exposed. 

In July, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew the emergency use authorization for both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine due to serious safety issues.

Doctors have warned that the drugs can cause serious heart problems, but the FDA had previously allowed their use for hospitalized patients and during clinical trials.

Trump repeatedly promoted the drug as a potential miracle treatment for the virus. He said in May that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, in combination with zinc, as a way to prevent getting COVID-19.

Trump’s promotion of the drug has led to shortages for people that need it for other conditions. Hydroxychloroquine, which was initially approved as an anti-malaria drug, is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Tags chloroquine Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic Donald Trump Hydroxychloroquine

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