JOURNAL ARTICLE

Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine for Treatment or Prophylaxis of COVID-19: A Living Systematic Review

Adrian V Hernandez, Yuani M Roman, Vinay Pasupuleti, Joshuan J Barboza, C Michael White
Annals of Internal Medicine 2020 May 27
32459529

BACKGROUND: Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have antiviral effects in vitro against severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).

PURPOSE: To summarize evidence about the benefits and harms of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for the treatment or prophylaxis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

DATA SOURCES: PubMed (via MEDLINE), EMBASE (via Ovid), Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, bioRxiv, Preprints, ClinicalTrials.gov, World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and the Chinese Clinical Trials Registry from 1 December 2019 until 8 May 2020.

STUDY SELECTION: Studies in any language reporting efficacy or safety outcomes from hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine use in any setting in adults or children with suspected COVID-19 or at risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

DATA EXTRACTION: Independent, dually performed data extraction and quality assessments.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Four randomized controlled trials, 10 cohort studies, and 9 case series assessed treatment effects of the medications, but no studies evaluated prophylaxis. Evidence was conflicting and insufficient regarding the effect of hydroxychloroquine on such outcomes as all-cause mortality, progression to severe disease, clinical symptoms, and upper respiratory virologic clearance with antigen testing. Several studies found that patients receiving hydroxychloroquine developed a QTc interval of 500 ms or greater, but the proportion of patients with this finding varied among the studies. Two studies assessed the efficacy of chloroquine; 1 trial, which compared higher-dose (600 mg twice daily for 10 days) with lower-dose (450 mg twice daily on day 1 and once daily for 4 days) therapy, was stopped owing to concern that the higher dose therapy increased lethality and QTc interval prolongation. An observational study that compared adults with COVID-19 receiving chloroquine phosphate 500 mg once or twice daily with patients not receiving chloroquine found minor fever resolution and virologic clearance benefits with chloroquine.

LIMITATION: There were few controlled studies, and control for confounding was inadequate in observational studies.

CONCLUSION: Evidence on the benefits and harms of using hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat COVID-19 is very weak and conflicting.

PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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