This Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two antimalarial drugs, for treating COVID-19 patients on an emergency basis. President Trump has named these two drugs are hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as a “game-changer” for treating COVID-19 patients.
On the other side, a study reports that one of these drugs, hydroxychloroquine not to help coronavirus patients. This study is published in a French journal named Médecine et Maladies Infectieuses (2020). Click here to read the complete study results.
The study is based on two prior studies from China and France, which discussed a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for treating COVID-19 cases. However, this combination only helped people with minor symptoms and not severe cases.
There are some previous clinical trials that show that it is not helpful for coronavirus and many other viruses as well. Also, no one has talked about the side effects of using these medicines, so most such news is giving people only false hopes.
Using these antimalarial medicines for COVID-19 patients has caused a shortage of these medicines in the market which is problematic for malaria patients as well as, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients. These medicines were initially approved for malaria, arthritis and lupus diseases.
The combination of hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin showed some hopeful insights for COVID-19. This study, by Philippe Gautret in Marseille, France studied 80 patients. It showed positive results in some patients who were encouraging for the researcher. But most of these 80 people only had minor coronavirus symptoms.
Also, approximately 85% of these patients never developed a fever which is one of the major symptoms of COVID-19. It suggests that some of these patients naturally fought against coronavirus and hence the virus was not prevailing in their bodies.
The other study published in medRxiv, by Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, China investigated the effects of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients who exhibited mild symptoms only. All of these patients had no other underlying condition. 31 patients who showed a complete recovery showed a remarkable decrease in their symptoms within 24 hours as compared to the controlled group. The symptoms were gradually improved in 25 patients from the target group and 17 from the control group.
The only problem with this study is that it was in Chinese and some of the content was meaninglessly translated. It could be a problem in interpreting results. Also, this study was more oriented towards pneumonia and not COVID-19. However, such issues are minor and could be easily cleared once the study makes it to peer-reviewers.
These two above mentioned studies contradict their findings. Another study from France, under Jean-Michel Molina, has checked the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin combination while treating 11 coronavirus positive patients admitted in Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris, France. Their results were different from other studies.
First, it was a small study where Molina and her colleagues followed the Gautret dosage guide. But eight out of eleven patients from Gautret study with underlying medical conditions and ten out of eleven patients showed extreme symptoms when this testing started.
Molina found that at least five days of treatment with this hydroxychloroquine in dose 600mg per day and 500 mg azithromycin every day still reported eight out of ten patients as COVID-19 positive. One patient was moved to ICU and another patient went into the serious stage.
A similar Chinese study showed that this combination had no role to clear the virus even after seven days. These results validate Molina’s results.
Conclusively, despite this combination of the antimalarial drug has been approved, there is still doubtfulness regarding its efficacy and action. Perhaps more randomized trials of hydroxychloroquine can help to understand whether or not it helps to treat COVID-19 patients.