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'No benefit' to treating Covid-19 with hydroxychloroquine

Philippa Roxby

Health reporter, BBC News

Hydroxychloroquine tablet
AFP/Getty

A study of Covid-19 patients in hospitals has found no benefits to treating them with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

In fact, the patients given the drug were more likely to die in hospital and develop heart rhythm complications than other Covid patients in a comparison group. Nearly 15,000 patients took the drug (or a related form chloroquine) either alone or with an antibiotic, in The Lancet study.

The researchers warn that the drug - which is safe for treating malaria and diseases such as lupus and arthritis - should not be used outside of clinical trials.

But US President Donald Trump has been taking it, despite warnings it might be unsafe.

In a bid to find out more, a trial to see whether the anti-malarial drug could prevent Covid-19 is under way.

More than 40,000 healthcare workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America who are in contact with patients with the disease will be given the drugs to see if they work.