Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
A new study has found that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine helped patients survive COVID-19 while in the hospital, countering the establishment media’s criticism of President Donald Trump when he suggested the same thing.
The study was conducted by a team at Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan and published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases on Thursday.
Researchers studied a group of 2,541 hospitalized patients and found mortality rates were substantially reduced when patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine.
The study found that 13 percent of patients treated with just hydroxychloroquine died compared with 26.4 percent not treated with the drug.
“Overall crude mortality rates were 18.1 percent in the entire cohort, 13.5 percent in the hydroxychloroquine alone group, 20.1 percent among those receiving hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin, 22.4 percent among the azithromycin alone group, and 26.4 percent for neither drug,” the study’s report read.
Dr. Marcus Zervos, the division head of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System, said in a news release that the study’s findings have been analyzed and peer-reviewed.
“We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring,” Zervos said.
“Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug. And other studies are either not peer reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations or other differences from our patients.”
The use of the drug has been criticized and questioned for months.
A May 22 study posted in The Lancet used data from Surgisphere to conclude that coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine were more likely to die in the hospital, Science reported.
Within days of study’s publication, randomized trials of hydroxychloroquine came to a stop, including part of the World Health Organization’s trial of potential COVID-19 treatments. However, the data used in that study has since been scrutinized and described as “flawed.”
When Trump began taking hydroxychloroquine as a way to prevent him from contracting COVID-19, the mainstream media and Democrats mocked him for it.
“I know this much, I don’t know that it will help with his health, but it certainly helps to cover up his weaknesses,” Cuomo said.
On Friday, however, CNN reported these words from Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of Henry Ford Medical Group:
“It’s important to note that in the right settings, this potentially could be a lifesaver for patients.”
Kalakanis said that while the new findings may differ from other studies, it doesn’t mean that those studies were wrong.
“What it simply means is that by looking at the nuanced data of which patients actually benefited and when, we might be able to further unlock the code of how this disease works,” he said.
“Much more work needs to be done to elucidate what the final treatment plan should be for COVID-19. But we feel … that these are critically important results to add to the mix of how we move forward if there’s a second surge, and in relevant other parts of the world. Now we can help people combat this disease and to reduce the mortality rate.”
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Early treatment with hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate significantly in certain sick patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — and without heart-related side-effects, according to a new study published by Henry Ford Health System.
The study, published Thursday in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, is another curve in the continued research — and its sometimes conflicting results — into whether the drug that seemed promising at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic really works.
The Henry Ford study examined outcomes of 2,541 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between March 10 and May 2 across the Michigan system’s six hospitals. Overall, 18 percent of the patients died in the hospital.
But there were marked differences in their treatment.
Among those who received hydroxychloroquine as part of early treatment, 13 percent died, compared to 26 percent of those who did not receive the drug.
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Mortality among all patients was highest among those who were older than 65, white, and were admitted with already-reduced oxygen levels. They also commonly had serious underlying diseases, including chronic kidney and lung disease.
Dr. Marcus Zervos, head of infectious disease at Henry Ford Health System, acknowledged that Henry Ford’s results differ from other studies.
“There’s variability in the literature on outcomes with hydroxychloroquine... What we think was important in our study was our patients were treated early. And for hydroxychloroquine to have a benefit, it needs to be given before the patient suffers some of the severe immune reaction that can occur with COVID.”
That’s because the drug works by inhibiting the immune system’s inflammatory response to the virus, Zervos said.
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Patients were monitored for possible heart issues, he added, and anyone who was at risk for cardiac abnormalities was excluded from the study.
While it is critical to use hydroxychloroquine in combination with other treatments, such as steroids, Zervos said these findings suggest the drug could be helpful in treating COVID, especially in other countries that don’t have access to the antiviral drug, Remdesiver, which may reduce illness in some COVID-19 patients.
“Many of these countries, they could be low-income settings. They don’t have access to Remdesivir. Remdesivir is going to be expensive. Hydroxychloroquine is inexpensive. So I think the drug does have a role,” Zerovos said.
Hydroxychloroquine, sold as a generic or under the brand name Plaquenil, is used to prevent or treat mosquito-carried malaria, as well as certain auto-immune diseases such as lupus and arthritis.
In the earliest days of the pandemic, doctors reported that some patients appeared to recover more quickly with hydroxychloroquine. The drug’s profile skyrocketed in March after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a reference, and President Trump lauded its potential as a game-changing medication and urged patients to give it a shot.
But scientists quickly urged caution as doctors began to report potentially deadly changes to the heart’s rhythm. In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned against use of the drug outside a closely-monitored hospital setting or clinical trial. Then last month, the FDA withdrew hydroxychloroquine sulfate and the related chloroquine phosphate from the Strategic National Stockpile for use among hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Confusing matters more, two high-profile studies — including one that suggested hydroxychloroquine was unsafe — were retracted from the respected journals, The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, after researchers questioned irregularities in the data.
A study to determine whether hydroxychloroquine may prevent COVID-19 infection is also underway at Henry Ford. The randomized, double-blinded WHIP study will examine 3,000 first responders and health care workers. There are 619 people currently enrolled.