Malaria drug increases risk of death in Covid-19 patients

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Malaria drug increases risk of death in Covid-19 patients


Donald Trump recommends hydroxychloroquine as a cure for Covid-19, and the British and Brazilian governments also rely on it. But according to a study, the drug is not only ineffective, but also dangerous.



© NARINDER NANU / AFP



As a “gift from God” in the fight against Corona Donald Trump the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine referred to a few weeks ago. The US president recently even announced that he was taking the medication himself as a prophylactic measure to combat infection with the Corona virus to protect.

However, the effects of the remedy have long been controversial. A study published on Friday has now concluded that Covid-19 patients treated with the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have a higher mortality rate.

“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are of no benefit in Covid 19 patients,” study author Mandeep Mehra of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston said on Friday. Rather, new studies have shown that patients even have an increased risk of death. The medication could also trigger irregular heartbeat.

A research team from Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Heart Center at Zurich University Hospital had in the trade journal “The Lancet” published study evaluated the data from 96,000 patients in hundreds of hospitals worldwide.

The researchers differentiated four groups: one group received hydroxychloroquine, another one chloroquine. The third group was treated with one of the two drugs in combination with antibiotics and a control group was given none of the drugs.

The control group mortality rate was nine percent. The proportion of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine was 18 percent. Of those who took chloroquine 16.4 percent. In combination with antibiotics, the mortality rate was even 23.8 percent (hydroxychloroquine) and 22.8 percent (chloroquine).

According to the study authors, patients were up to 45 percent more likely to die from treatment with the antimalarials. “There is no scientific evidence of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in Covid-19. On the contrary, we observed serious side effects, especially in Covid-19 patients with heart disease, especially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias,” said Frank Ruschitzka, head of cardiology at the university hospital Zurich.

Doctors have long warned of hydroxychloroquine

The active ingredients hydroxychloroquine and the related active ingredient chloroquine have long been used as a remedy for malaria infections. Chloroquine in particular has numerous side effects. Its effectiveness in treating Covid-19 patients has long been controversial.

There was already a lot before the study Medical criticism of Trumps Recommendation: Medical professor Bob Lahita was surprised about Trump’s medication. He said hydroxychloroquine was ineffective. “We found no effect and we used it to treat many patients,” said Lahita.

Other governments also rely on the antimalarial drug: the Brazilian government officially recommends the two active ingredients for the treatment of even mild and moderate cases of lung disease. The UK government has also ordered £ 35m hydroxychloroquine.


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