(Reuters) – Malaria drug taken by US President Donald Trump to prevent COVID-19 shows no benefit over placebo for reducing coronavirus infection among healthcare workers, according to clinical trials released Wednesday
The study largely confirmed the results of a clinical trial in June that showed that hydroxychloroquine was ineffective in preventing infection among people exposed to the new coronavirus.
Trump began supporting hydroxychloroquine at the start of the pandemic and told reporters in May that he began taking the drug after two White House officials took a COVID-19 test. Studies have found that the drug offers little benefit as a treatment.
In a study of 125 participants, four who took hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment for eight weeks became infected with COVID-19 and four were placebo-positive for the virus.
All eight were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms that did not require hospitalization, according to results published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study shows that routine use of the drug cannot be recommended among healthcare professionals to prevent COVID-19, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania said.
The authors of the study said that a study conducted in a community with a higher prevalence of the disease may allow the discovery of a greater benefit of the drug.
In the last study, which was stopped before it could reach its enrollment target of 200 participants, mild side effects such as diarrhea were more common in participants taking the malaria drug than in placebo.