Early use of hydroxychloroquine reduced COVID-19 deaths, study says

COVID-19 patients who received a small dose of hydroxychloroquine within the first two days of their hospital stay were more likely to survive, according to a retrospective study published July 2 in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Researchers at Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System analyzed the medical records of COVID-19 patients who were given 400 milligrams of hydroxychloroquine twice on the day of their hospital admission and 200 milligrams twice a day the following four days. They found 13 percent of patients who received hydroxychloroquine died, compared with 26 percent of patients who didn't receive the drug.

The researchers studied the records of 2,541 COVID-19 patients who had been admitted from March 10 to May 2. Half the patients were Black, about half the patients were male and about half were younger than 65. Study co-author Marcus Zervos, MD, said prospective, randomized studies are needed to further confirm the results.

The study comes as hydroxychloroquine's efficacy remains controversial. The FDA rescinded its emergency use authorization of the drug June 15 after studies of the drug given in higher doses suggested its inefficacy, and the National Institutes of Health and Novartis both halted their hydroxychloroquine trials a few days after.

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