Pills of Hydroxychloroquine sit on a tray Photograph:( AFP )
They found that the fatality rate was much higher among people who were given the drug as opposed to those who weren’t
The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a potential cure to COVID-19 by many experts. However, a new study shows that the drug may be killing people.
Ever since global leaders, especially Donald Trump endorsed the drug, the public confidence in it to prevent coronavirus has increased. In fact, the US president recently claimed to be taking the medicine to avoid contracting COVID-19.
Published in the Lancet online medical journal, the paper claims that the rush to quickly use the drug on patients may not be a great idea. A lot of doctors have been prescribing it without evidence of its potency against the virus. Earlier researches have made it abundantly clear that the drug could cause heart irregularities, and has been used to treat malaria.
The researchers in the paper believe that the drug should no longer be administered on patients, unless in a research setting.
A french doctor started treating his patients with the drug first.
Even though the drug is otherwise safe for malaria patients, it may be fatal for people carrying COVID-19, for we’re still learning new details of the virus everyday.
The researchers took into account 96,000 patients across 671 hospitals between the time period of December 2019 - April 2020.
They found that the fatality rate was much higher among people who were given the drug as opposed to those who weren’t. One out of six patients on hydroxychloroquine died. While only one out of 11 patients not taking the drug dead.
Many patients who were given hydroxychloroquine also recorded cardiac arrhythmias, which makes the lower chamber of the heart to beat irregularly. Almost 8 per cent of the patients who were being treated with hydroxychloroquine alongside an antibiotic developed irregular heartbeats, as opposed to 0.3 per cent patients who were not given the drug.
“This is the first large-scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with Covid-19,” said Prof Mandeep R Mehra, lead author of the study in conversation with The Guardian.
“Instead, our findings suggest it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death. Randomised clinical trials are essential to confirm any harms or benefits associated with these agents. In the meantime, we suggest these drugs should not be used as treatments for Covid-19 outside of clinical trials”, he added.
Many scientists have suggested ending the use of hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus patients.