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Discredited Covid treatment would have saved nearly 500,000 lives

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An early treatment for severe cases of Covid-19 was a life-saver—although it was abandoned after fraudulent research said it was ineffective.

Many more Covid patients who were given the anti-rheumatoid arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine survived than those given the standard treatment at the time, say researchers from AZ Groeninge Hospital in Kortrijk, Belgium.

If hydroxychloroquine had been given throughout the epidemic, around 436,000 Covid deaths in the US would have been avoided, the researchers estimated.

During the 28-day trial, which involved 3885 patients with life-threatening Covid infection, 352 were given the drug and the rest had standard treatment.  Just 16.8 percent in the drug group died compared to 25.9 percent in the standard care group.

Hydroxychloroquine, which is marketed as Plaquenil, regulates an overactive immune system, which was characterised as a ‘cytokine storm’ during Covid infection.

It was championed by then President Donald Trump, who said he was given the drug to treat his own Cobid infection, but a study—later found to be fraudulent—had claimed it was ineffective.  Critics have claimed the study was designed to fail as new vaccines cannot be fast-tracked if an effective treatment already exists.

References
New Microbe and New Infections, 2023; 55: 101172
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