SALT LAKE CITY — Researchers in Utah have declared that the once highly sought after anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating COVID-19.
A trial looking into its effectiveness and involving 85 COVID-19 patients in Utah hospitals ended earlier this year. The local trial was ended following similar results of a nationwide study.
“We saw enormous early interest in hydroxychloroquine, but now we can definitively say that it doesn’t help COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Samuel Brown, principal investigator of the trial and director of the Center for Humanizing Critical Care at Intermountain Healthcare said on Wednesday.
The results of his study were published Monday in the medical journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
Brown, a critical care specialist, also worked closely with the national trial that came to the same conclusion.
The Outcomes Related to COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine among Inpatients with symptomatic Disease, or ORCHID study, was discontinued earlier this year after the use of hydroxychloroquine showed no harm, but also no benefit to patients with coronavirus disease.
“We hope this clear result will help practitioners make informed treatment decisions and researchers continue their efforts,” said James Kiley, director of the Division of Lung Diseases at National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health and conducted the nationwide trial.
Other randomized clinical trials involving other agents are ongoing “to evaluate the effectiveness and safety in the urgent race for effective therapies to treat COVID-19,” the National Institutes of Health reports.
One of those medications with continuing trials regarding COVID-19 treatment is azithromycin, a well-known antibiotic widely used for treating other conditions. Brown said, “There’s enough suggestion of a positive benefit of giving patients azithromycin that it merits further study,” which is being done in the RECOVERY trial in the United Kingdom.
“It’s too early to start widespread use of azithromycin outside clinical trials,” he added.
There have been more than 10.2 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States, with nearly 240,000 deaths resulting from the disease, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
The CDC released new information on wearing masks, saying the practice most definitely protects the wearer from contracting the virus, or at least a higher viral load from droplets spread through the air by an infected person. The agency confirmed that 80% blockage is achieved with cloth mask usage.
In Utah, cases reached 139,720 on Wednesday, with 2,335 new cases announced by the state health department.
The Utah Department of Health also reported six more deaths, bringing the number of lives lost to COVID-19 in Utah to 678.
Among those new deaths are a Utah County man older than age 85 who was a resident of a long-term care facility at the time of his death; a Davis County woman between the ages of 65 and 84, who was hospitalized; a Salt Lake County woman between ages 65 and 84 and a resident at a long-term health care facility; two Salt Lake County men between the ages of 65 and 84 who were both hospitalized; and another Salt Lake County woman between the ages of 65 and 84 who was hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms when she died.
The seven-day rolling average number of new COVID-19 cases daily is 2,584, with an average percent of positive tests now at 22.6%, the health department reports.
More than 1,190,623 people have been tested in Utah, with 9,847 people tested since Tuesday’s COVID-19 update.
New COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday by health district:
- Salt Lake County, 998
- Utah County, 387
- Davis County, 272
- Bear River, 190
- Weber-Morgan, 155
- Southwest Utah, 95
- Central Utah, 64
- Southeast Utah, 50
- Tooele County, 35
- TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 31
- Summit County, 27
- Wasatch County, 22
- San Juan County, 9