A newly released study has found that there's no evidence chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine has any benefit for COVID-19 patients. In fact, seriously ill patients were found to be more likely to die when taking the drugs.
The observational study of 96,000 patients is the largest analysis of the drugs' effect on COVID-19 patients. It looked at data from 671 hospitals on six continents, including 15,000 patients on different combinations of the drugs and 81,000 patients who were not taking the medications.
Every combination of the drugs ended up being associated with an increased risk of irregular heartbeat and in-hospital mortality. About 1 in 6 patients treated with the medications died, compared to 1 in 11 for the control group. Odds got even worse when the medications were combined with an antibiotic.
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are considered generally safe when used for approved conditions, such as malaria or an autoimmune disease.
The authors of the study concluded that the drugs urgently need randomized trials and should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of those trials.