On Tuesday, President Donald Trump criticized a study jointly funded by the University and the National Institutes of Health that analyzed the effectiveness of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine — calling the study a “Trump enemy statement” and claiming that researchers had only given the drug to patients who were old, near death or in “very bad shape.”
Results from the April study — which have not officially been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal as of press time — found that hydroxychloroquine increases the mortality rate in COVID-19 patients. In a previous show of support for the drug, Trump called it a “game changer” in the fight against this pandemic when administered alongside the antibiotic azithromycin.
The study was co-authored by the University, Columbia Veterans Affairs Health Care System in South Carolina and the University of South Carolina and conducted among COVID-19 patients hospitalized in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, which provide comprehensive healthcare services to military veterans. The study retrospectively analyzed 368 male patients nationwide, with 97 of those patients receiving hydroxychloroquine, 113 receiving hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin and 158 not receiving any hydroxychloroquine.
Data concluded that more than 27 percent of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine died and 22 percent of patients treated with the combination therapy died, whereas patients not treated with drugs had an 11.4 percent death rate.
Trump announced on Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for the past 1.5 weeks as a preventative measure, and Wednesday, he said he will finish his regime “in a day or two.”
Dangers of cardiac death due to the use of hydroxychloroquine, in combination with azithromycin, have emerged in multiple studies, including one by the French national agency in charge of drug safety, one by New York University’s Langone Medical Center and another study conducted by researchers in Brazil.
Currently, results are pending from two NIH studies on the drug — one testing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine alone on the recovery of COVID-19 patients and the other on the effectiveness of the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.
Due to the possible danger, some researchers are advising against using the combination of drugs as a preventative measure, including the NIH.