Experts: Anti-malaria drug of little effect

Cai Wenjun
Research conducted by Shanghai's Ruijin Hospital finds that hydroxychloroquine has no significant effect on patients with mild or moderate coronavirus infections.
Cai Wenjun

Local medical experts have found that hydroxychloroquine has no significant effect on patients with a mild or moderate coronavirus infection but brought more complications. 

The world’s first such multi-center research targeting the anti-malaria drug on coronavirus treatment was published by British Medical Journal, one of the four leading journals in the world.

The research conducted by Ruijin Hospital studied 150 coronavirus patients recruited from 16 Chinese hospitals between February 11 and March 20. Patients were divided into two groups: one with hydroxychloroquine plus standard care and one with standard care only.

The hydroxychloroquine group was given a daily dosage of 1,200 milligrams for the first three days and 800 milligrams every day after that. Patients in a mild and moderate condition received treatment for two weeks, while it was three weeks for more serious cases.

“We didn’t find significant differences between the two groups,” said Dr Xie Qing, director of Ruijin’s infectious diseases department.

About 85.4 percent of patients with hydroxychloroquine eventually tested negative for coronavirus, compared with 81.3 percent of the other group. The average time for the easing of symptoms was 19 days for the group with hydroxychloroquine, and 21 days for the others.

But the rate of adverse reaction for taking hydroxychloroquine was 30 percent, much higher than the 8.8 percent in the other group.

Doctors said there were no serious adverse effects, the most prevalent adverse reaction was diarrhea, they said.

“The research provides true and accurate evidence for the use of hydroxychloroquine in clinical practice,“ said Dr Qu Jieming, one of the leading researchers. “Some doctors in the US said hydroxychloroquine has great effects in coronavirus treatment. But they have used the medicine along with other medication on different types of patients and so far no article has been published in journals. So such opinion can’t be used as scientific and precise evidence as our research, whose every step was in line with the international standard.”

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