A systematic review of the prophylactic role of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19)

Sanket Shah, Saibal Das, Avinash Jain, Durga Prasanna Misra, Vir Singh Negi
International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 2020, 23 (5): 613-619

OBJECTIVE: The pandemic coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) has pushed the global healthcare system to a crisis and amounted to a huge economic burden. Different drugs for prophylaxis against COVID-19 including chloroquine (CQ) or hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) have been tried. This study was performed to systematically review the role of CQ and HCQ in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

METHODS: PubMed, EMBASE,, International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and Cochrane Library databases were searched for studies that evaluated the prophylactic role of CQ or HCQ on SARS-CoV-2 (pre-clinical studies) or COVID-19 (clinical studies) until 30 March 2020. The available literature was critically appraised.

RESULTS: A total of 45 articles were screened and 5 (3 in vitro pre-clinical studies and 2 clinical opinions) were included. The pre-clinical studies showed the prophylactic effects of CQ and HCQ against SARS-CoV-2. On the other hand, the clinical opinions advocated the prophylactic use of CQ and HCQ against COVID-19. However, no original clinical studies on the prophylactic role of CQ or HCQ on COVID-19 were available.

CONCLUSION: Although pre-clinical results are promising, to date there is a dearth of evidence to support the efficacy of CQ or HCQ in preventing COVID-19. Considering potential safety issues and the likelihood of imparting a false sense of security, prophylaxis with CQ or HCQ against COVID-19 needs to be thoroughly evaluated in observational studies or high-quality randomized controlled studies.

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