A malaria drug that was touted and then taken by President Donald Trump in hopes of preventing coronavirus infection failed to offer patients any protection in the first scientifically rigorous study of its potential to ward off the pathogen.
The study involved 821 health-care workers, first responders and people living with infected patients. Half were given hydroxychloroquine for five days, while the other half received a placebo pill that contained the vitamin folate. After two weeks, 12% of those taking hydroxychloroquine had developed an infection, compared with 14% given placebo, a difference the researchers said could have been due to chance.
The novel coronavirus has sickened 6.4 million people and killed more than 380,000 globally since it emerged late last year in China. Hydroxychloroquine was identified early as a promising medication, since it appeared in laboratory tests to make it more difficult for the virus to penetrate healthy human cells. Its subsequent use in patients, however, yielded mixed findings.
The latest and most definitive study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no benefit and no signs of serious complications, such as erratic heart rhythms that are known to be associated with the drug. About two in every five patients did develop side effects — mainly nausea, upset stomach or diarrhea. Adding zinc and vitamin C didn’t change the study results.
28,936 in BrazilMost new cases today
-9% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23
-0.9817 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23
-2.3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), May