Mixed signals on hydroxychloroquine
The researchers who reported possible harm to COVID-19 patients who took hydroxychloroquine have retracted their study. Independent reviewers could not confirm their results, according to the retraction published in The Lancet on Thursday. When the study came out on May 22, it led the World Health Organization to temporarily stop using hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus research. President Donald Trump took the malaria drug as a preventive measure against COVID-19 after two members of his staff tested positive. His doctor said he suffered no ill effects.
Does that mean doctors will use the drug? A more thorough study of hydroxychloroquine found it provided no better protection from the coronavirus than a placebo. The researchers looked at 821 people from the United States and Canada who had a high risk of contracting the disease and found 12 percent who took hydroxychloroquine contracted COVID-19 compared to 14 percent on the placebo. They called the difference statistically insignificant and said it could be due to chance. But the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, also found the drug didn’t cause serious harm: 40 percent of participants had side effects, mostly mild stomach problems. The team behind the study encouraged more research into the drug.
Dig deeper: Read Dr. Charles Horton’s analysis of the different drugs researchers are exploring to fight COVID-19.
Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.
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