Study shows hydroxychloroquine did not prevent coronavirus in health care workers

A new study has found that hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus MORE said he took to ward off coronavirus, did not prevent COVID-19 among health care workers.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, was conducted at two urban hospitals between April 9-July 13 among 132 full-time health care workers exposed to the virus. However, the trial was ended early.

Some participants were given 600 mg daily doses of hydroxychloroquine while others were given a placebo for eight weeks.

“There was no significant difference in infection rates in participants randomized to receive hydroxychloroquine compared with placebo,” the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania wrote.

Four of the 64 healthcare workers who were randomly given hydroxychloroquine ended up testing positive for COVID-19 and four of the 61 healthcare workers who were given a placebo tested positive.

Among those eight participants who tested positive, six developed viral symptoms. None required hospitalization and they all clinically recovered from the illness, according to the study.

“As such, we cannot recommend the routine use of hydroxychloroquine among (health care workers) to prevent COVID-19,” researchers concluded.

The findings of the newly released study appear similar to what was reported in a June study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness when used within four days of being exposed. 

In July, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew the emergency use authorization for both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine due to serious safety issued.

Doctors have warned that the drugs can cause serious heart problems, but the FDA had previously allowed their use for hospitalized patients and during clinical trials.

Trump repeatedly promoted the drug as a potential miracle treatment for the virus. He said in May that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, in combination with zinc, as a way to prevent getting COVID-19.

Trump’s promotion of the drug has led to shortages for people that need it for other conditions. Hydroxychloroquine, which was initially approved as an anti-malaria drug, is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. 

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Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine shows no benefit in COVID-19 prevention: study

(Reuters) – A malaria drug taken by U.S. President Donald Trump to prevent COVID-19 did not show any benefit versus placebo in reducing coronavirus infection among healthcare workers, according to clinical trial results published on Wednesday.

The study largely confirms results from a clinical trial in June that showed hydroxychloroquine was ineffective in preventing infection among people exposed to the new coronavirus.

Trump began backing hydroxychloroquine early in the pandemic and told reporters in May he started taking the drug after two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19. Studies have found the drug to offer little benefit as a treatment.

In the study of 125 participants, four who had taken hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment for eight weeks contracted COVID-19, and four on placebo tested positive for the virus.

All eight were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms that did not require hospitalization, according to the results published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.

The research shows that routine use of the drug cannot be recommended among healthcare workers to prevent COVID-19, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania said.

The study authors said it was possible that a trial conducted in a community with higher prevalence of the disease could allow detection of a greater benefit from the drug.

In the latest trial, which was terminated before it could reach its enrollment target of 200 participants, mild side effects such as diarrhea were more common in participants taking the malaria drug compared to placebo.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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