The anti-malaria drug that Donald Trump has praised as a treatment for coronavirus patients has been linked to increased death rates and heart risks, a study finds. CNN reports that seriously ill patients with coronavirus who were given the drug were actually more likely to die, despite what Trump has said. The large observational study took into account COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, and was published Friday by the medical journal the Lancet.
Researchers used data from over 96,000 patients with coronavirus across 671 hospitals for the study. These patients were either hospitalized from the end of December 2019 to mid-April, or had passed away or been discharged by April 21. Approximately 15,000 patients in the study had been treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, both of which have since been linked to a higher risk of dying while hospitalized. Around one in 11 patients in the study died in the hospital, while one in five treated with chloroquine and an antibiotic died. Even worse, one in four treated with hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, which Trump revealed he was taking on Monday, died.
"Previous small-scale studies have failed to identify robust evidence of a benefit and larger, randomised controlled trials are not yet completed," Dr. Frank Ruschitzka, the co-author of the study, said in a statement. "However, we now know from our study that the chance that these medications improve outcomes in COVID-19 is quite low."
Researchers also found that cardiac arrhythmias was more commong among patients receiving one of these treatments. Of those who were treated with hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, roughly 8 percent of those patients developed heart issues. The drug was given huge praise by Trump when he started touting it as a miracle drug in the ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic. It still hasn't been approved for use in treating the virus, but Trump has regardless stressed to Americans that it's safe.