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Hydroxychloroquine Signal Against COVID-19 Virus


Biotechnology: Hydroxychloroquine Signal Against COVID-19 Virus

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Bottom Line:

Results reported from a 6-day single-center trial designed to evaluate the potential of hydroxychloroquine against SARS-CoV-2 viral infection provide what we view as an intriguing signal of activity. Inclusion of the antibiotic azithromycin appears to enhance this effect. We think these results support the investigation of hydroxychloroquine in a multi-center controlled randomized trial, but caution against overinterpretation.

Key Points:

Results published online (but yet to be formally peer-reviewed) from 20 patients hospitalized in Marseilles, France who were treated with hydroxychloroquine indicate, in our view, that this drug may have activity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Why the addition of azithromycin would provide added benefit is puzzling to us. We caution that: 1) the small sample size, 2) use of untreated patients who were not part of the trial protocol as a comparative control, and 3) lack of complete safety results reported are significant limitations of this study. Data: At Day 6, 14/20 (70%) patients treated with hydroxychloroquine had viral clearance from nasopharyngeal swabs vs. 2/16 (13%) from the control group. Of the patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone, 8/14 (57%) had viral clearance at Day 6 vs. 6/6 (100%) when azithromycin was included as part of the treatment plan (see graphs herein). Six drug-treated patients were lost to follow-up and were not part of this analysis.

We point out several related clinical trials listed on including:

Gov. Cuomo announced yesterday that a 5,000-patient trial would begin in NY State on Tuesday. 750,000 doses of chloroquine, 70,000 doses and hydroxychloroquine, and 10,000 doses of azithromycin have been acquired.


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George Farmer, PhD Biotechnology Analyst

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