Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19: benefits and harms are uncertain

Added April 21, 2020

Citation: Gbingie K, Frie K. Should chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine be used to treat COVID-19? A rapid review. BJGP Open 2020; bjgpopen20X101069 [Epub ahead of print 7 April 2020]

What is this? A variety of drugs are being assessed as possible treatments for COVID-19. These include chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

In this rapid review, the authors searched for in vitro studies, in vivo studies and literature reviews on the effects of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against the virus, SARS-CoV-2 and for treating patients with COVID-19. They did not restrict their search by date, type or language of publication, and did their most recent search on 28 March 2020. They identified three laboratory-based studies and three reports of the treatment of patients with COVID-19. These reports were a news briefing from 10 hospitals in China (chloroquine), a randomized trial in China (hydroxychloroquine) and a non-randomised controlled trial in France (hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin).

What works: Nothing noted.

What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.

What’s uncertain: At the time of the review (March 2020), although laboratory-based studies had reported antiviral activity of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against SARS-CoV-2, the available evidence on the effectiveness of these drugs for treating COVID-19 patients was very limited and the potential benefits and harms were uncertain.


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