The Veterans Health Administration released the results of a study on the efficacy of the drug hydroxychloroquine on patients being treated for COVID-19. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute of Health and the University of Virginia. Researchers found that not only did the drug show no benefit, it may have actually caused harm. Study results can be viewed in the medRxiv online depository.
Researchers included data from 368 COVID-19 patients. 97 were treated with hydroxychloroquine, 113 were administered a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin and 158 received “standard supportive management” for COVID-19. Here’s what they found:
The two primary outcomes analyzed in the study were death and the need for ventilation.
About 28 percent who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11 percent of those getting routine care alone.
About 22 percent of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival.
Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either.
The researchers said, “In this study, we found no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine, either with or without azithromycin, reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with Covid-19. An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone. These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs.”
Researchers did not track side effects but noted hints that hydroxychloroquine might have damaged other organs. The drug has long been known to have potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.
This was not a peer-reviewed study.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement by email to Fox News which read, “This was not a clinical trial. It is simply an analysis of retrospective data regarding hospitalized patients. The findings should not be viewed as definitive because the analysis doesn’t adjust for patients’ clinical status and showed that hydroxychloroquine alone was provided to VA’s sickest COVID-19 patients, many times as a last resort.”
Sounds pretty grim considering the promising results we’ve seen from other studies.
As you would expect, the mainstream media was thrilled with the bad news about the drug that President Trump has been touting.
One of the studies that showed positive results was conducted by French Dr. Didier Raoult. His study included 1,061 patients who were treated with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin and demonstrated 91% effectiveness with zero side effects.
Upon hearing the surprising results of the VA study, Dr. Raoult reviewed their findings and discovered several glaring instances of “scientific misconduct.” Fox News’ Laura Ingraham reported on Raoult’s response on her program Wednesday night. (Video of this segment is at the bottom of the page.)
Ingraham read about the first problem from Raoult’s response, “In the current period, it seems that passion dominates rigorous and balanced scientific analysis and may lead to scientific misconduct and this article [VA findings] is an absolutely spectacular example of this. The analysis of the data shows two major biases…Lymphopenia is twice as common in the HCQ groups as the non-HCQ group and there is an absolute correlation between lymphopenia and fatality rate, which is well known.”
One of the major problems Raoult found was that the HQC and the HQC/Zpak were given after the patients had been intubated. “This is unreasonable at the time of the cytokine storm [after patient is critically ill], as it is unlikely that HCQ alone would be able to control patients at this stage of the disease.”
Ingraham translates: “The later you take HCQ, the worse the outcome will be.”
The second problem: “Incomprehensibly, the ‘untreated group’ actually received azithromycin in 30% of cases, without this group being analyzed in any distinct way. Azithromycin is also a proposed treatment for COVID-19 (Gautret 2020) with in-vitro efficacy.”
Well, then you can’t call these patients untreated. I suppose we won’t be seeing any media coverage of the serious problem Raoult discovered in the VA study.
It looks as if the VA researchers had been trying to achieve a particular result.
From the Associated Press to CNN, the press gloated over the VA report when it was released. Below is a tweet from Jake Tapper. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well.
One can’t Sharpie an untested drug into safe status
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 22, 2020
Still wrapping my head around a bunch of ostensible adults pontificating about the lack of safety of a drug that's been on the market for 65 years solely because Trump said something positive about it. It's mind blowing.
— Mo Mo (@molratty) April 23, 2020
Really? You don't say. I've never heard this before in my 19 years of practice in pharma patents and FDA approvals. You're right. I should listen to Jake Tapper instead. I'll be sure to cite him in court briefs. https://t.co/IqqxUo6HW0
— Mo Mo (@molratty) April 23, 2020
It really is astonishing that you journalists lie like this and NO ONE from your profession has any problem with it.
— Archer Defiant (@ArcherMint) April 23, 2020