More than 100 doctors and statisticians from various countries have just warned of serious irregularities in the largest study on the effectiveness of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against covid-19. Those responsible for the initiative have demanded that the work data be reviewed so that it is corrected or withdrawn.
The study in question has caused a worldwide cataclysm around two possible treatments that just a few months ago were considered the most promising against covid and that now seemed to have fallen out of favor.
The work was a review of anonymous data from more than 96,000 patients in 600 hospitals worldwide. It concluded that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine not only do not offer benefits to patients, but can increase the risk of death by 30%. The work was published in The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.
As a result of these questionable data, the World Health Organization suspended the use of these drugs in a clinical trial, which tried to test the effectiveness of various treatments against covid in hospitals around the world.
The WHO says it is a temporary suspension until an independent group analyzes the data and issues a verdict on whether it is safe to continue. But after the WHO announcement, France also banned the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment and stopped ongoing clinical trials. Italy discontinued its use as a treatment and Belgium warned of its use outside of clinical trials.
In other countries like Spain, health agencies concluded that the study did not provide sufficiently strong evidence on the risk associated with these drugs and recommended that clinical trials with these two drugs, that are currently underway in the country, continue. A spokesman for the agency explained that so far they had not received any security alert from those responsible for these trials.
The results of the aforementioned questionable study did not prevent these two treatments from being “revolutionary” in the words of US President Donald Trump, who has assured that he takes hydroxychloroquine to protect himself from the coronavirus.
Despite results shared by doctors that hydroxychloroquine has helped patients recover from covid, mainstream media continue to pedal the opinion that “at the moment there is not a single solid proof that these drugs work against covid”. These media continue saying, despite having no proof, that hydroxychloroquine can increase the risk of arrhythmias in seriously ill patients.
The latest study on these two drugs “has an alarming level of inconsistencies,” alerts Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO malaria program. “There are enormous doubts about the quality of this work and both its authors and the magazine that has published them will have to be held accountable,” he highlights.
Chloroquine and its hydroxychloroquine derivative have been used to fight malaria for decades and have a very high safety profile, Alonso recalls. Furthermore, these drugs are used to combat autoimmune diseases like lupus.
The study in question is signed by Mandeep Mehra of Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston; Frank Ruschitzka, from the University Hospital of Zurich; Amit Patel, from the bioengineering department of the University of Utah, and Sapan Desai, from the Surgisphere company, who have provided anonymous data for the 96,000 patients included in the study.
But the work has inconsistencies, such as the treatment of the data, which have not been published for the rest of the scientific community to analyze, or the absence of an ethics committee to review that the treatment of patient data is adjusted. The open letter published this Thursday that has been signed by more than 120 doctors, biostatisticians and biomedical researchers, has also been sent to the management of The Lancet magazine.
The study does not give detailed information on the hospitals in each country from which the data comes, say the signatories. It also uses doses of the drugs that are on average 100 milligrams higher than those recommended by the US drug agency, they point out.