- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine, the drug President Trump said he was taking to ward off the novel coronavirus, does not reduce transmission of the contagious disease it causes, new research showed Wednesday.

A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal found the controversial anti-malarial drug hyped by the president earlier during the pandemic to be ineffective at preventing COVID-19.

“There was no significant difference in infection rates in participants randomized to receive hydroxychloroquine compared with placebo,” the researchers who conducted the study concluded.

Mr. Trump promoted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 early on during the continuing novel coronavirus pandemic despite scientists being unsure of the drug’s actual efficiency if any.

The president later announced in May he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against COVID-19 in light of hearing anecdotes about people who sang the drug’s praises.

“I’ve received a lot of positive letters,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “And it seems to have an impact. And maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick or die.”

The study, led by Benjamin S. Abella, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, sought to see if taking a daily 600mg dose of hydroxychloroquine was effective at preventing catching the coronavirus.

Participants included 125 health care workers who received either hydroxychloroquine or a placebo and were exposed to patients carrying the infectious and potentially lethal respiratory disease.

Researchers ended the study early when seven participants tested positive for COVID-19, including four of the 64 taking hydroxychloroquine and four of the 61 who were receiving a placebo.

“In this randomized clinical trial, although limited by early termination, there was no clinical benefit of hydroxychloroquine administered daily for 8 weeks as pre-exposure prophylaxis,” they wrote.

More than a million people worldwide have died since the coronavirus outbreak started late last year.

Each of the eight participants who tested positive for COVID-19 has clinically recovered, the researchers wrote. 

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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