Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and this involves a drug Trump endorsed to cure the Coronavirus, but according to the study it does the exact opposite.
Hydroxychloroquine did not prevent healthy people exposed to covid-19 from getting the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to a study being published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The results were the latest development in a highly charged medical and political issue the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in combating covid-19. Trump has repeatedly touted the drug as a “game changer” for covid-19 and recently said he took it for several days. But federal regulators have said it should be used only for hospitalized patients or in clinical trials, because of possible side effects including serious heart-rhythm issues.
Researchers launched the trial in mid-March. They enrolled more than 800 adults in the United States and Canada who were exposed to someone with covid-19 because of their jobs as healthcare workers or first responders, or because they lived with someone with the disease. The study was a randomized, placebo controlled trial and was double blinded, meaning neither the participants nor the researchers knew what the participants received. Such a study is considered the gold standard for clinical trials.
The study is the first randomized clinical trial that tested the antimalarial drug as a preventive measure, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School who conducted the trial. It showed that hydroxychloroquine, which has been touted by President Trump, was no more effective than a placebo in this case, a vitamin in protecting people exposed to covid-19.
In recent days, scientists have raised questions about the validity of the data used for the study. On Tuesday, the Lancet published an “expression of concern” about the study. The researchers said in a statement that they are conducting an independent review of the data, which came from an outside company. Among other things, critics are skeptical that so many health records could have been collected in such a short period of time and have cited inconsistencies about dosing information. In addition, the company has not explained its methodology, scientists say. The WHO, meanwhile, resumed its trial of hydroxychloroquine, saying its safety experts concluded there was no reason to discontinue it.
The prevention trial released Wednesday showed 40 percent of the participants who took the drug developed side effects that were not serious mostly nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. The study found no serious side effects or cardiac complications, the researchers said.
Its findings reinforced those of previous studies showing the drug does not provide benefit against covid-19.
David Boulware, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Minnesota and the study’s senior investigator, said he launched the trial because hydroxychloroquine had shown signs in a lab setting that it might be effective against the virus.
About two-thirds of the trial participants were health-care workers and the rest were a mix of other people exposed to someone with covid-19, he said. They were given hydroxychloroquine or a placebo for five days and then followed for two weeks to see who developed the disease.
The participants were recruited on the Internet through social media. Their eligibility was confirmed with documents, and the team sent medications overnight via FedEx. Given the political sensitivities of the issue, Boulware said, it was important the participants did not know who was getting the drug and who was getting the placebo.
One weakness of the trial, he added, is that because testing was not widely available during the time of the trial, their analysis used a combination of lab-confirmed positive covid-19 tests and symptoms to count someone as infected.