A panel of World Health Organization experts has strongly advised against using hydroxychloroquine to prevent Covid-19 after reviewing all existing studies on the subject.
The panel announced the recommendation in the BMJ medical journal on Monday, as part of the first version of WHO’s living guideline for drugs to prevent Covid-19.
The panel concluded with high certainty that taking hydroxychloroquine does not prevent hospitalization or death from Covid-19. The panel also recommended that researchers studying hydroxychloroquine as means of Covid-19 prevention — also known as prophylaxis — consider ending their trials.
Trump's claims: Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat autoimmune diseases and to prevent malaria, but early in the pandemic it was touted by former US President Donald Trump as a “game-changer,” prompting a flurry of clinical trials and a bump in sales of the pills. But many studies later showed the drug was not helpful in treating coronavirus patients and also did nothing to prevent infection.
The panel’s recommendation is based on six studies that included more than 6,000 participants. Three of the trials included volunteers who had a known exposure to Covid-19.
“The panel felt that further research was unlikely to uncover a subgroup of patients who benefited from hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis on the most important outcomes (mortality, admissions to hospital) given the consistent results of the trials completed to date,” the researchers wrote.
Emergency use: The US Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for use of the drug against coronavirus last year, and the National Institutes of Health stopped its research.