Could taking hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus be more harmful than helpful?
A paper published in The Lancet has cast fresh controversy on the use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
The study’s authors reported they were “unable to confirm a benefit” of using the drug, while also finding COVID-19 patients in hospital treated with hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die or suffer life-threatening heart rhythm complications.
The publication prompted the World Health Organisation to suspend its testing of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, while a similar Australian trial has paused recruitment.
Read more: Donald Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off COVID-19. Is that wise?
Hydroxychloroquine has been used since the 1940s to treat malaria, but has been making headlines as a potential treatment for COVID-19. US President Donald Trump recently declared he was taking it daily, while Australian businessman and politician Clive Palmer pledged to create a national stockpile of the drug.
The drug alters the human immune system (it’s an immunomodulator, not an immunosuppressant) and has an important role in helping people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
It does have a range of serious possible side-effects, including eye damage and altered heart rhythm, which require monitoring.
Laboratory studies suggest hydroxychloroquine may disrupt replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. It’s also possible hydroxychloroquine could reduce “cytokine storm” – the catastrophic immune system overreaction that happens in some people with severe COVID-19.
A huge global effort is underway to investigate whether hydroxychloroquine is safe and effective for preventing or treating COVID-19, especially to improve recovery and reduce the ...
More on: theconversation.com