Amsterdam study shows hydroxychloroquine ineffective in Covid-19 treatment
Hydroxychloroquine was not effective in treating Covid-19 in Dutch hospitals during the coronavirus crisis, according to a study by Amsterdam scientists led by internist-infectiologist Edgar Peters of Amsterdam UMC. The drug, which is usually used to treat malaria, did not lead to any fewer deaths, but luckily also did not seem to lead to any more deaths, the scientists concluded, the Volkskrant reports.
The Amsterdam researchers compared seven hospitals where Hydroxychloroquine was included in the treatment guideline in the early months of the crisis, to two hospitals where the drug was not prescribed. Coronavirus related mortality was roughly the same in both groups. "This clearly showed that prescribing the drug had no positive effect,' researcher Jonne Sikkens said to the newspaper. "Our conclusion would be to stop using it in the treatment of Covid-19."
Hydroxychloroquine has been used to treat malaria for decades. When the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 emerged, it was one of the drugs that showed promise in cultures cells and laboratory animals. Hydroxychloroquine was subsequently embraced by various doctors and politicians, including Donald Trump who said in March that he was taking it preventively. In Dutch hospitals, between 8 thousand and 11 thousand seriously ill coronavirus patients were treated with Hydroxychloroquine.
But later patient studies showed that the drug was not effective against Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, and may cause more deaths due to its side effects on the heart - side effects that are simply more serious to elderly and vulnerable people who are at high risk for Covid-19, than the younger travelers who contracted malaria. In the Netherlands, Hydroxychloroquine was dropped from the Covid-19 treatment guidelines in May.
In the hospitals where Hydroxychloroquine was prescribed, mortality was 17 percent higher than elsewhere. But according to Peters, that figure is not "statistically significant" - it could be a coincidence, and the drug was prescribed to the sickest patients. "It does not help. And if you squint, you get the impression that it had negative effects," Peters said to the newspaper.