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Mixed signals on hydroxychloroquine

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 6/04/20, 06:02 pm

The researchers who reported possible harm to COVID-19 patients who took hydroxychloroquine have retracted their study. Independent reviewers could not confirm their results, according to the retraction published in The Lancet on Thursday. When the study came out on May 22, it led the World Health Organization to temporarily stop using hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus research. President Donald Trump took the malaria drug as a preventive measure against COVID-19 after two members of his staff tested positive. His doctor said he suffered no ill effects.

Does that mean doctors will use the drug? A more thorough study of hydroxychloroquine found it provided no better protection from the coronavirus than a placebo. The researchers looked at 821 people from the United States and Canada who had a high risk of contracting the disease and found 12 percent who took hydroxychloroquine contracted COVID-19 compared to 14 percent on the placebo. They called the difference statistically insignificant and said it could be due to chance. But the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, also found the drug didn’t cause serious harm: 40 percent of participants had side effects, mostly mild stomach problems. The team behind the study encouraged more research into the drug.

Dig deeper: Read Dr. Charles Horton’s analysis of the different drugs researchers are exploring to fight COVID-19.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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  • Nanamiro
    Posted: Thu, 06/04/2020 03:59 pm

    I thought it was also being used to treat Covid-19. Isn't that a more important thing to study. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Thu, 06/04/2020 05:48 pm

    Notice who has contributed to the funding - Alliance of Minnesota Chinese Organizations. Are we sure there is no Chinese government money here? Are we sure we can trust this study? Unfortunately, the science is so politicized today, I would not trust the study. We cannot forget that China has used scientists to push their political agenda before about the Coronavirus originating in the Wuhan market.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Thu, 06/04/2020 08:46 pm

    This is a fascinating development.  Without trying to be conspiratorial, I would include the potential motivation of western researchers or other associated actors to undermine Pres. Trump.  

    I would encourage a read of the following article:   A telling quote: "Chaccour says both NEJM and The Lancet should have scrutinized the provenance of Surgisphere’s data more closely before publishing the studies. “Here we are in the middle of a pandemic with hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the two most prestigious medical journals have failed us,” he says."

    This may bring to mind a retraction in another prestigious journal that involved another politically-charged issue (see

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Fri, 06/05/2020 03:41 am

    Maybe I am spreading a conspiracy theory here, but it would be interesting to know if they get Chinese money. China controls the message of most the Chinese newspapers in the US. Just have somebody who reads Chinese look at it and they can tell if it is Chinese propaganda.  Here is an article telling about China's use of journalists in spying:

    And you cannot forget about the vast armada of human intelligence? There are about 25000 Chinese spies in the US! And specifically they are trying to control the narrative about the Coronavirus. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Sat, 06/06/2020 01:10 am

    Interesting! We now find this editor of this medical journal was very political and the study was a fraud!
    My instinct of not trusting the study was right on!  The hatred of Trump brings out the most irrational behavior not only of doctors but also journalists.