Hydroxychloroquine is a relatively unknown drug that was used to treat malaria for the past decades. It might have other applications treating rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Regardless, it only used to be relatively unknown, as its potential as a treatment for the new coronavirus made it lead the headlines for weeks on end, starting in early February. The drug, together with chloroquine, a related drug, have killed the virus that causes COVID-19 in vitro.
The Hydroxychloroquine Mania
After that theoretically groundbreaking results, health care officials decided to give hydroxychloroquine to patients with severe forms of the disease. The drug was even promoted by some highly influential figures, such as Donald Trump and Elon Musk. They have talked about it as if it was a cure.
Unfortunately, back when this happened, nobody knew if this was true or not, as scientists did not have time to properly test the drug. Two new sets of data on the matter have just been released this week. One of them is from an enormous drug trial in the United Kingdom, while the other is from researchers affiliated with the University of Minnesota. Both studies are clear in their conclusion: hydroxychloroquine does not prevent people from getting sick with COVID-19 and it does not reduce symptoms for people who take it.
Researchers have a lot of different studies that are available. Some studies are just observational, which involve the scientists taking a look at a group, such as people infected with COVID-19. Other studies are retrospective, which mean that researchers simply look at records to see how things unfolded. But according to a randomized controlled trial, which is the gold standard for drug trials, hydroxychloroquine is entirely useless.
That means that a large group of people were put into two different groups from the start, then they were given the drug, respectively a fake pill. That means, conclusively, that the drug has no effect whatsoever on people suffering from COVID-19.