During the earlier half of this year, the name hydroxychloroquine was seen to emerge as a possible solution for the novel threat of coronavirus. While there weren’t enough studies to confirm or deny these possibilities then, an array of studies today have brought to light that hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug, offers no significant benefits against COVID-19 symptoms or development.
A recent report by Science considers some of the latest research around hydroxychloroquine to conclude that according to the results of almost all these studies, the malaria drug plays no significant role in the management and treatment of coronavirus infections. This comes close on the heels of the retraction of a couple of studies by The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine, whose data sources could not be verified.
The situation highlights the panic and hype around COVID-19 and possible solutions that are being propped up. However, more recent studies seem to point in the direction away from hydroxychloroquine. A statement saying the drug provides no clinical benefits to COVID-19 patients was released by the Chief Investigators of the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) Trial.
Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford said ‘There has been huge speculation and uncertainty about the role of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, but an absence of reliable information from large randomized trials. Today’s preliminary results from the RECOVERY trial are quite clear – hydroxychloroquine does not reduce the risk of death among hospitalized patients with this new disease. This result should change medical practice worldwide and demonstrates the importance of large, randomized trials to inform decisions about both the efficacy and the safety of treatments.’
While this may mean that ongoing clinical trials around this drug would lead to similar results, a possibility of hydroxychloroquine being effective in preventing infections in people who could be exposed to the virus. Some researchers consider the possibility of it being an effective prophylactic.