After hypotheses, the first control study was conducted
As we have mentioned in our previous article on chloroquine, it has been proven to be effective against some viruses such as the human coronavirus responsible for SARS. The current coronavirus’s similarity to the SARS coronavirus has attracted a lot of attention. This new study, conducted in the Chinese province of Hubei, shows results of the effectiveness of the drug in COVID-19 patients.
How was the study conducted?
There were 62 COVID-19 patients who took part in this study. They were hospitalized in Wuhan University’s hospital between the 4th and the 28th of February 2020.
Participants were divided equally into two groups:
- Control group: treated with a placebo solution, with no pharmacological effects.
- Treatment group: treated with 400 mg of hydroxychloroquine per day, for five days.
At the end of the five days, analyses were carried out to verify the efficacy of the drug in regards to:
- Chest x-ray
- Pulmonary symptoms
By comparing the two groups, it was possible to detect the differences between patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and those treated with a placebo.
The data obtained from the experiment are encouraging and positive. In fact, at the end of the five days of treatment with hydroxychloroquine, the patients were significantly relieved of the symptoms, and the differences between the two groups seem to suggest that hydroxychloroquine increases the chances of healing faster from the disease. Specifically, a decrease in cough and fever as well as recovery time has been observed. At the same time, a high percentage of those infected presented reduction in lung inflammation, demonstrating the anti-inflammatory properties of the drug.
- Although four individuals from the control group showed severe disease progression, 55% of the patients reported improvement of pneumonia symptoms.
- Following the hydroxychloroquine intake, the treatment group recorded an improvement in 81% of the cases. Only two patients experienced mild adverse reactions to the active substance.
The data in the table below show a decrease in duration of symptoms such as fever and cough in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine compared to the control group.
The four individuals not under the treatment group who experienced a progression to a severe form of the disease is an important factor.
Despite the small number of cases, the potential of chloroquine in treating COVID-19 patients has been partially confirmed. Considering there isn’t currently a better option, and if managed carefully, this practice can be proved to be truly promising. Of course, further large-scale clinical researches are still needed to clarify the specific mechanism of the drug and to continuously optimize the treatment. Being able to decide and plan individual treatment plans carefully can prove to be a relatively safe method for minimizing side effects. Timely monitoring of any adverse reactions is important and overdose could be avoided by applying small doses of the drug.
- Efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19: results of a randomized clinical trial Zhaowei Chen, Jijia Hu, Zongwei Zhang, Shan Jiang, Shoumeng Han, Dandan Yan, Ruhong Zhuang, Ben Hu, Zhang Zhang;
- Schrezenmeier E, Dorner T. Mechanisms of action of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine: implications for rheumatology. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41584-020-0372-x.
- Wang M, Cao R, Zhang L, et al. Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the recently emerged novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in vitro. Cell Res. 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41422-020-0282-0.
- Gao, Z. Tian, X. Yang. Breakthrough: chloroquine phosphate has shown apparent efficacy in treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in clinical studies. Biosci Trends (2020 Feb 19), 10.5582/bst.2020.01047. DOI: 10.5582/bst.2020.01047.
- Colson P, Rolain JM, Lagier JC, Brouqui P, Raoult D. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as available weapons to fight COVID-19 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 4]. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2020;105932. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105932.
- Akpovwa H. Chloroquine could be used for the treatment of filoviral infections and other viral infections that emerge or emerged from viruses requiring an acidic pH for infectivity. Cell Biochem Funct. 2016;34(4):191–196. DOI:10.1002/cbf.3182.
- Keyaerts, L. Vijgen, P. Maes, J. Neyts, M.V. Ranst. In vitro inhibition of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus by chloroquine. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun., 323 (2004), pp. 264-268.DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.08.085.
- Vincent, M.J., Bergeron, E., Benjannet, S. et al. Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread. Virol J 2, 69 (2005). DOI: 10.1186/1743-422X-2-69.
- Proano Cinthia., Kimball Glenn P. Hydroxychloroquine Retinal Toxicity. N. Engl. J. Med., 380(17), e27. DOI:10.1056/NEJMicm1304542.
- Radke JB, Kingery JM, Maakestad J, Krasowski MD. Diagnostic pitfalls and laboratory test interference after hydroxychloroquine intoxication: A case report. Toxicol Rep. 2019;6:1040–1046. Published 2019 Oct 7. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2019.10.006.