16,000 dead: the balance sheet of hydroxychloroquine?

16,000 dead: the balance sheet of hydroxychloroquine?


  • Initially, hydroxychloroquine is a preventive and/or curative treatment for malaria.
  • From 2020, the French government repealed the derogations which made it possible to prescribe hydroxychloroquine in the hospital to treat patients with severe forms of Covid-19.

It’s a french study which takes stock: more than 16,000 deaths due to hydroxychloroquine administered at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic in certain hospitals, in particular in that of Marseilles since Professor Didier Raoult defended this treatment. Since then, its effectiveness in treating the coronavirus has been contested by a large part of the scientific community.

16,274 dead in eight countries

Very precisely, researchers from the University of Lyon estimate that the number of deaths due to this treatment would be 16,274 in eight countries, including France. To achieve this result, they analyzed health data of 96,032 patients hospitalized and tested positive for Covid-19 between December 20, 2019 and April 14, 2020 in 671 hospitals in eight countries. Among them, only 14,888 people received this type of treatment within 48 hours. The other 81,114 patients who did not receive this treatment were part of a control group.

A higher mortality rate in treated patients

The mortality rate of this control group was 9.3%, much lower than that of patients on treatment. In details : “These rates were 16.4% with chloroquine alone, 22.2% with chloroquine + a macrolide (a type of antibiotic)18% with hydroxychloroquine alone and 23.8% with hydroxychloroquine + a macrolidecan we read on the site APMNews. After adjusting for covariates (age, sex, comorbidities, disease severity, etc.), all treatments were associated with a significant increased risk of death in hospital compared to no treatment. This increased risk was between 34% and 45% depending on the treatment, the highest risk being observed with the combination hydroxychloroquine + macrolide”.

No precise data

One of the limitations of this study is the difficulty in collecting precise data on the use ofhydroxychloroquine at the start of the pandemic. Information that is not always available and searchable by researchers. “We are not trying to produce an exact result, we especially wanted to show what the concrete consequences can be when a potentially toxic drug is prescribed”explains Professor Jean-Christophe Lega to Parisian.

Hydroxychloroquine “could also deprive people of chances”

Guest of the show C to you on France 5Professor Arnaud Fontanet, researcher at the Institut Pasteur and member of the Scientific Council, did not wish to comment on the study but considered that “the crux of the matter is that this treatment, which was not effective and we saw this very quickly and which caused adverse effects and a slight excess mortality, could also have deprived people who believed themselves protected when they were not“. A reality from the start of the epidemic, when patients even went so far as to self-medicate with hydroxychloroquine…

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