Hydroxychloroquine does not work against Covid-19 and should not be given to any more hospital patients around the world, say the leaders of the biggest and best-designed trial of the drug, which experts will hope finally settle the question, writes Sarah Boseley, the Guardian’s health editor.
“If you are admitted to hospital, don’t take hydroxychloroquine,” said Martin Landray, the deputy chief investigator of the Recovery trial and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University. “It doesn’t work.”
Many countries have permitted emergency use of the drug for Covid-19 patients in hospitals, following claims from a few doctors, including Didier Raoult in France, that it was a cure and the ensuing clamour from the public. President Donald Trump backed the drug, saying it should be given to patients and later said he was personally taking it to protect himself from the virus.
Landray said the hype should now stop. “It is being touted as a game-changer, a wonderful drug, a breakthrough. This is an incredibly important result because worldwide we can stop using a drug that is useless.”
The first results from the Recovery trial, which has been testing seven therapies for Covid-19, swiftly followed the retraction of a paper in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday night that claimed hydroxychloroquine was linked to an increased risk of death in Covid-19 patients. The authors of the paper withdrew it after the US company Surgisphere refused to cooperate with an independent audit of the data it had supplied for the study. A Guardian investigation had showed serious errors in the data and raised questions about Surgisphere and its CEO.