According to a study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is not effective in containing the virus in Covid-19 positive patients.
Lead author Mendel Singer from the Case Western Reserve University in the US stated in the study: "Our study shows, with a large degree of confidence, that HCQ is ineffective as a preventive antiviral in people with SLE and/or RA taking drugs that suppress their immune system, putting them at greater risk."
The authors noted that the widely known old antimalarial drug, which has been part of the daily therapeutic armamentarium of rheumatologists for decades, has reached the global spotlight after the demonstration of antiviral efficacy in some Covid-19 cases.
Moreover, an additional problem was created in several countries, where a general run to antimalarials led to a nationwide drug shortage and prevented patients with rheumatic diseases from accessing these critical drugs to control their disease.
Confident on his findings, Singer further stated: "By drawing on data from a relatively large patient population with lupus and/or RA, we can offer a higher level of confidence in our findings."
"We see from this large retrospective review that this drug is ineffective in preventing Covid-19 in these patients who have been taking HCQ," he added.
"If HCQ were effective in prevention, we would have seen fewer HCQ-taking SLE/RA patients with Covid-19, but did not," the study authors noted.
"This likely means that HCQ is not active against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in humans--versus in the lab--and is unlikely to be an effective preventive antiviral for anyone," they noted.