Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: What is our Current State of Knowledge?

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are drugs which have been widely used in malaria and rheumatoid arthritis respectively for over 50 years. There was anecdotal evidence of their efficacy in the earlier SARS outbreak in 2003. This prompted physicians from across the world to use them in the present SARS-CoV- 2 pandemic that is currently sweeping the globe, with 5 million people already infected to date. These drugs are already in widespread use for the treatment of COVID-19 in India, mainly because they are cheap and easily available, and because of the absence of any readily available alternative therapy. This timely review discusses the pre-clinical evidence, and data from the eight available clinical trials. We emphasise that careful monitoring for cardiac toxicity is required when these drugs are used. Finally, we conclude that current data does not allow us to recommend for or against the use of these drugs. Results of two large RCTs, one from the NIH and the other from WHO (Solidarity) are eagerly awaited before the role of these drugs in COVID-19 can be definitively established.
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