New study links hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to increased risk of in-hospital death
A recent study investigates whether hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine might help treat COVID-19. The authors conclude that neither drug, taken alone or with a macrolide antibiotic, improves outcomes. Conversely, they show that the drug regimens are associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias.
The study used data from 96,032 individuals who received hospital treatment for COVID-19. After controlling for a range of variables — including, age, sex, diabetes, existing lung disease, and smoking habits — the researchers found that each of the drug regimens were “independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality.”
In the paper, which appears in The Lancet, the authors conclude, “These findings suggest that these drug regimens should not be used outside of clinical trials and urgent confirmation from randomized clinical trials is needed.”
Black people four times as likely to test positive for COVID-19
According to a study that took place in the United Kingdom, black people are four times as likely as white people to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. The authors published their results in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The researchers took data from 500 doctor’s offices in the U.K. The data came from 587 people who tested positive for the virus and 3,215 who tested negative.
The proportion of black people who tested positive was 62.1% compared with 15.5% of white people. The results remained significant, even after controlling for hypertension and diabetes, both of which are more prevalent among black people.
In their paper, the authors explain, “Other socioeconomic factors that we did not measure, such as employment in high risk positions, education, income, and structural barriers to healthcare, might have contributed to this association and should be urgently explored.”
Vaccine shows promise in small trial
Researchers investigating an experimental COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc. — the first to undergo testing in humans — released their findings today. A small trial involving just eight healthy adults produced encouraging results. The vaccine appears to be safe, and the participants generated antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
The results are preliminary, though. Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, explains: “These are significant findings but it is a Phase I clinical trial that only included eight people. It was designed for safety, not for efficacy.”
Although the results are interesting, there are many hurdles to jump before researchers can prove that the vaccine is safe and effective for the population at large.
3-drug combo shows promise
According to a recent phase II clinical trial, in combination with standard treatment, a three-drug combination helps treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. The encouraging results appear in The Lancet.
The researchers tested a combination of three antiviral drugs: interferon beta-1b, lopinavir-ritonavir, and ribavirin. Compared with individuals who did not receive the three drugs, those who took the combination experienced relief from symptoms and shorter hospital stays.
Lead researcher Prof. Kwok-Yung Yuen from the University of Hong Kong says: “Our trial demonstrates that early treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 with a triple combination of antiviral drugs may rapidly suppress the amount of virus in a patient’s body, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk to healthcare workers by reducing the duration and quantity of viral shedding (when the virus is detectable and potentially transmissible).”
Obesity may put people at a ‘very high risk’ of severe COVID-19
A new review summarizes the current information on the link between obesity and COVID-19 and finds that obesity does have an association with a higher risk of severe symptoms and complications of COVID-19, independent of other underlying conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.
The lead author of the review, Dr. Norbert Stefan, said “We concluded that obesity may put people infected with the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) at a very high risk for a more severe COVID-19 illness and possibly risk of death.”