In this article, just published in Lancet, the authors report an analysis of multinational registry data on the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19. The registry comprised data from 671 hospitals across six continents, including patients hospitalised between Dec 20, 2019 and April 14, 2020, with a positive laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. Patients who received one of the treatments of interest within 48 hours of diagnosis were included in one of four treatment groups (chloroquine alone, chloroquine with a macrolide, hydroxychloroquine alone, or hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide), and patients who received none of these treatments formed the control group. The main outcomes of interest were in-hospital mortality and the occurrence of de novo ventricular arrhythmias. 96032 patients (mean age 53.8 years, 46·3% women) with COVID-19 were hospitalised during the study period and met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 14888 patients were in the treatment groups (1868 received chloroquine, 3783 received chloroquine with a macrolide, 3016 received hydroxychloroquine, and 6221 received hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide) and 81 144 patients were in the control group. After controlling for multiple confounding factors, when compared with mortality in the control group (9·3%), hydroxychloroquine (18·0%; hazard ratio 1·335, 95% CI 1·223–1·457), hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (23·8%; 1·447, 1·368–1·531), chloroquine (16·4%; 1·365, 1·218–1·531), and chloroquine with a macrolide (22·2%; 1·368, 1·273–1·469) were each independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality. Compared with the control group (0·3%), hydroxychloroquine (6·1%; 2·369, 1·935–2·900), hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (8·1%; 5·106, 4·106–5·983), chloroquine (4·3%; 3·561, 2·760–4·596), and chloroquine with a macrolide (6·5%; 4·011, 3·344–4·812) were independently associated with an increased risk of de novo ventricular arrhythmia during hospitalisation. The authors concluded that they were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19. Furthermore, each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.
by Marialuisa Zedde and Francesco Cavallieri