Influential study on hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus withdrawn

Monday, 08 Jun, 2020

In this study, data from almost 15 000 hospitalised Covid-19 patients who were given hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, and a control group of about 81 000 patients who didn't take the drug, were analysed.

The drug has now been pulled from the UK's Recovery trial, which is run by the University of Oxford.

The drug has been repeatedly touted by US President Donald Trump as a possible cure, who says he took a two-week dose as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus.

Four medical experts who published a research that emphasised the dangers of hydroxychloroquine and induced the World Health Organisation to suspend clinical trials for the famous medication, have retracted their study.

An independent audit company was asked to examine a database provided for the research by the United States company, Surgisphere, to ensure it had the data from more than 96,000 Covid-19 patients in 671 hospitals worldwide, that it was obtained properly and was accurate.

Speaking about the significance of the retraction, Anurag Agarwal, Director Translational Research in Lung Disease at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, said "the retraction does not prove in any way that HCQ or chloroquine work, it simply proves that the concerns of very high mortality risk from the drug are unfounded".

"Our findings suggest not only an absence of therapeutic benefit but also potential harm with the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine drug regimens", the doctors wrote, admitting that "observational studies can not fully account for unmeasured confounding factors".

"The Surgisphere database in the retracted Lancet study has been in the spotlight because of its size a" almost 100,000 patients".

Today, three authors-all the coauthors on the study except Surgisphere founder and CEO Sapan Desai-contacted The Lancet to retract their report.

Influential study on hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus withdrawn
Influential study on hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus withdrawn

Meanwhile, a separate clinical trial on Wednesday in the United States and Canada found that taking hydroxychloroquine shortly after being exposed to COVID-19 does not work to prevent infection significantly better than a placebo.

The Lancet, which first published in 1823, is one of the world's most trusted medical journals.

The research has been fragmented in many ways, with some looking at treatments, others vaccines, and some with innovative RNA blocking protocols like we've never seen before.

"This is a really important result, at last providing unequivocal evidence that hydroxychloroquine is of no value in treatment of patients hospitalised with COVID-19", said Peter Openshaw, a professor at Imperial College London, in reaction to the results.

There is concern in the scientific community about using such drugs to treat coronavirus.

President Trump has championed hydroxychloroquine, bringing with it intense criticism from the liberal media--and a Fox News anchor-- who painted the anti-malaria drug as unsafe.

"The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of solidarity trial, including hydroxychloroquine".

At that time Recovery Trial investigators had said there was no reason to stop enrolling patients for HCQ trial.

The WHO resumed clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine following widespread suspicion over the accuracy of the research by Mr Desai and three others.