A new study showed that hydroxychloroquine, compared to a placebo, failed to prevent people from contracting COVID-19 after they were exposed to the virus.
According to The New York Times, the study conducted by researchers from the United States and Canada found that the antiviral drug that's used on malaria patients was not effective as a COVID-19 prevention measure. President Donald Trump has touted the purported benefits of the drug and even took it himself under the guidance of the White House medical team.
"After high-risk or moderate-risk exposure to COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness compatible with COVID-19 or confirmed infection when used as post-exposure prophylaxis within 4 days after exposure," the study abstract reads.
The study involved 821 people who were exposed to COVID-19 patients. Some were not wearing a mask or eye protection, while others only wore a mask. Within four days of being exposed, the participants were put on either a placebo or hydroxychloroquine for five days.
The results showed that 11.8% of the people who were on hydroxychloroquine and 14.3% who were on the placebo contracted the virus. Slightly over 40% of people who took hydroxychloroquine experienced side effects, although none were serious.
The study results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
"If we could find something that would ameliorate infection, block it or make it milder after a solid exposure, that would be quite wonderful," Dr. Judith Feinberg, the vice chairwoman for research in medicine at West Virginia University, told the Times. "What we want to do is limit the number of cases. There was great hope riding on this."
Other studies have turned in similar results regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent and treat COVID-19, which has infected roughly 6.6 million people worldwide, including 1.9 million people in the U.S., and killed more than 388,000 people, with more than 109,000 deaths in the U.S.
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