Clinical trial shows hydroxychloroquine ineffective protecting healthcare workers

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Taking 400 milligrams of hydroxychloroquine once or twice weekly did not prevent the development of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in healthcare workers better than the placebo, according to pre-exposure prophylaxis trial results were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

University of Minnesota Medical School physician researchers studied hydroxychloroquine as a treatment to prevent COVID-19. The double-blind trial enrolled 1,483 healthcare workers and first responders from across the U.S. and Canada. Participants were randomly assigned to receive once-weekly hydroxychloroquine, twice-weekly hydroxychloroquine, or a placebo. Participants were followed for a minimum of four weeks and up to twelve weeks to evaluate who developed COVID-19.

Overall, 7.9 percent assigned the placebo developed COVID-19, while 5.9 percent assigned hydroxychloroquine developed COVID-19. Those results were not statistically significant, meaning there was not a meaningful difference between hydroxychloroquine and the placebo, the researchers said.

Side effects were reported in 21 percent of participants assigned the placebo, 31 percent in the once-weekly hydroxychloroquine group, and 36 percent in the twice-weekly hydroxychloroquine group. The most common side effects were nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea. According to the study, there was no increased risk of serious side effects or cardiac complications from taking hydroxychloroquine compared to the placebo.

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