Last Updated on January 29, 2021
A new clinical study our of New Jersey concludes that when people with early onset COVID-19 are treated with hydroxychloroquine, they are significantly less likely to end up in the hospital or developing debilitating levels of the virus.
A Hackensack Meridian Health clinical study showed that those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 are likely to benefit from treatment with the drug. Hydroxychloroquine was widely used in the early days of the pandemic but several controversial and inaccurate studies questioned its benefits and safety.
The study, recently published for peer-review and conducted last year, examined a group treated as outpatients and found that of those who received the anti-inflammatory drug, often used for treating malaria, significantly fewer were likely to end up in the hospital.
Physicians and scientists who conducted the study suggest the findings warrant further study of the drug as it applies to COVID-19.
A study by Hackensack Meridian Health shows the controversial anti-inflammatory drug may help people with mild COVID symptoms. https://t.co/zTjyzmSK6C
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Dr. Andrew Ip, a lymphoma physician and director of the Division of Outcomes & Value Research at the John Theurer Cancer Center, which is part of the Hackensack Meridian system, said, “This is only an observational study. We can only recommend it in the context of a clinical trial. There may be a benefit for using this drug in an outpatient setting.”
The use of hydroxychloroquine, widely used in hospitals during the beginning of the outbreak, was stopped after some studies found no clinical benefit for seriously ill patients, completely ignoring the drug’s benefits for those with early onset COVID-19 infection and those with mild cases.
From March 2020 to mid-May 2020, physicians throughout the Hackensack Meridian Health system used the drug in outpatient treatment of those presenting with mild symptoms of COVID-19.
Of the more than 100 people who received hydroxychloroquine therapy treatment, slightly more than one-in-five ended up in the hospital, compared with almost one-in-three in the group of over 1,000 patients who didn’t receive hydroxychloroquine.
Dr. Ip, contradicting the theories of the studies that led to the termination of hydroxychloroquine’s use initially, said the drug also appeared to be safe, with no reports of cardiac arrhythmia, a potential but ultimately rare side effect of hydroxychloroquine.
“I’ve gotten messages from doctors saying it supports what they are seeing in their clinics,” Ip said.
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This study comes in the wake of news that an antibody cocktail in phase three trials produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is emerging as a game-changer in the fight against the COVID virus.
Last week, Regeneron announced that its phase 3 trial antibody cocktail has evidenced a 100 percent prevention of symptomatic COVID infections.