Health Care

Healthcare workers in United Kingdom begin COVID-19 hydroxychloroquine trial

Healthcare workers in United Kingdom begin COVID-19 hydroxychloroquine trial”

"Previous small-scale studies have failed to identify robust evidence of a benefit and larger, randomised controlled trials are not yet completed", said co-author Frank Ruschitzka, MD, Director of the Heart Center at University Hospital Zurich in a statement.

His comments set off a firestorm of controversy among health experts and physicians who urged the public not to take medications unless prescribed by a doctor.

Another study involving the use of hydroxychloroquine at veterans hospitals found no benefit among COVID-19 patients.

It comes just days after the USA president's decision to take hydroxychloroquine was described as "a staggering, irresponsible act that could very well also amount to self-harm" and there are fears his actions risk running down supplies of the drug for people with other conditions who need it. Again, that can only come from randomized controlled studies.Hydroxychloroquine use spiked dramatically after the drug was embraced by President Trump, who on Monday said that he himself was taking the drug, and commentators on Fox News.

"We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a [an antibiotic], on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19".

"If drugs as well tolerated as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could reduce the chances of catching COVID-19 this would be incredibly valuable..."

The drugs are fairly safe for patients being treated for malaria, but Covid-19 is a very different disease.

The biggest increase was in the group treated with hydroxychloroquine in combination with an antibiotic, where 8% of patients developed a heart arrhythmia compared with 0.3% of patients not given the drugs.

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"Before, the data suggested there may be no overall benefit of hydroxychloroquine, but this study shows increasing evidence that not only is there no benefit, there may likely be harm", Boulware said.

Professor Landray said thousands of lives could be saved if a drug could reduce fatalities even by one fifth, however he believes that combination therapies may be needed.

The team also found that serious cardiac arrhythmias, which cause the lower chamber of the heart to beat rapidly and irregularly, were more common in all the groups receiving one of the four treatment regimens.

But the authors stressed that anyone taking these drugs for other conditions should not stop taking them as the trial looked specifically at Covid-19. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against taking hydroxychloroquine with antibiotics and has said the malaria drug should only be used for coronavirus in formal studies.

There is also the antibiotic azithromycin, a commonly used antibiotic, and tocilizumab, an anti-inflammatory treatment given by injection.

"Furthermore, it is clear that high-profile endorsements of taking these drugs without clinical oversight are both misguided and irresponsible".

"It might even be said that to go on giving them, other than in a trial, is unethical, given this evidence that is not yet contradicted by other available evidence".

Testing to see if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine can prevent Covid-19 is open to staff in Brighton and Oxford as part of the investigation led by the Bangkok-based Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), which is supported by the University of Oxford and charity Wellcome.



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