Hydroxychloroquine Is Ineffective In Treatment Of Patients Hospitalized With Covid-19, According To Small Controlled Trial From Shanghai

Results from a controlled clinical trial from China on the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 have shown no significant differences in health outcomes between the control group and patients who received the experimental drug.

As Tara Haelle skillfully summarized in an earlier piece for Forbes, thirty patients hospitalized for Covid-19 participated in the trial. Fifteen were treated with 400mg of chloroquine for five days and fifteen received the standard supportive care. On Day 7 of the trial both groups were evaluated

The results:

CT scans showed there was little difference in the progression of the disease for those given the hydroxychloroquine treatment and those who received conventional care.

Of the thirty patients, only one patient progressed to severe stages of the disease — that patient had received hydroxychloroquine as part of their treatment.

93% of patients in the control group tested negative for Covid-19 after seven days compared to 86.7% of patients in the hydroxychloroquine treated group.

It took those in the control group between 1 and 4 days from the start of treatment before testing negative for the disease. It took those in the hydroxychloroquine treated group between 1 and 9 days from the start of treatment before testing negative.

The results were statistically indistinguishable, meaning there was no measurable difference in outcomes among the groups who received the hydroxychloroquine treatment and those who didn’t.

What does this all mean?

The researchers who conducted the study, a team from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center in China, acknowledge that their clinical trial was small and a larger study would be necessary to confirm the results. The study also raises questions that remain unanswered about whether different dosages of hydroxychloroquine might bring different results.

Still, despite its limitations, the study results are important — helping us curb false hopes that may be encouraging us to abandon the more aggressive actions that we need to take to stop the spread of this disease. These results must also be considered in light of the real potential harmful side effects of hydroxychloroquine.

The full study in Chinese with a short English summary is available here: https://subject.med.wanfangdata.com.cn/UpLoad/Files/202003/43f8625d4dc74e42bbcf24795de1c77c.pdf


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Originally published on Forbes (March 25, 2020)

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.