Research in Lleida concludes that chloroquine does not protect against COVID


Results of the survey of patients with chronic treatment published in ‘PLOS ONE

Chloroquine and its derivatives do not have a protective effect on COVID-19 in people who are chronically treated, according to research carried out by researchers from the University of Lleida (UdL), the Institute for Biomedical Research of Lleida (IRBLleida) and the Arnau de Vilanova University Hospital; which has just been published in the prestigious international journal PLOS ONE. These are the results of monitoring patients who take this drug to control their auto-immune diseases, comparing the prevalence of COVID-19 among them and a control group that does not consume chloroquine.

The researchers have distributed a survey, with special attention to Spanish patient associations focusing on auto-immune diseases and rheumatology, but also to the general population. In total, 2,295 individuals from all over Spain have responded to the survey, of which 2,150 have been selected. Within this sample, 319 are people who are undergoing treatment with chloroquine or its derivatives. The majority with hydroxychloroquine.

Despite these drugs having shown effectiveness against viral infections such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), influenza A or Zika, the study has shown that in the treated group the prevalence of COVID-19 is 5.3% and in the untreated group it is 3.4%. The figures increase in cases of community exposure, rising to 17% in treated groups and 13.4% in untreated groups.

“The data indicate that patients who regularly take chloroquine derivatives are equally exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection and have to take the same protective measures as the general population,” stresses Joan Fibla, professor at the UdL School of Medicine and IRBLleida researcher. “These conclusions should be taken into account in the prevention and treatment protocols drawn up by health policy makers for the treatment of the disease in new outbreaks”, add the authors of the article.

The World Health Organisation has also confirmed that none of the drugs against IDOC it was testing – such as chloroquine and remdesivir – reduce mortality.

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