Safety and Efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Waqas Ullah, Hafez M. Abdullah, Sohaib Roomi, Yasar Sattar, Talal Almas, Smitha Narayana Gowda, Rehan Saeed, Maryam Mukhtar, Ammar Ahmad, Tony Oliver, M. Chadi Alraies, Donald C. Haas, David L. Fischman


Background: During the initial phases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic, there was an unfounded fervor surrounding the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ); however, recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended against routine use of HCQ outside of study protocols citing possible adverse outcomes.

Methods: Multiple databases were searched to identify articles on COVID-19. An unadjusted odds ratio (OR) was used to calculate the safety and efficacy of HCQ on a random effect model.

Results: Twelve studies comprising 3,912 patients (HCQ 2,512 and control 1400) were included. The odds of all-cause mortality (OR: 2.23, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.58 - 3.13, P value < 0.00001) were significantly higher in patients on HCQ compared to patients on control agent. The response to therapy assessed by negative repeat polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (OR: 1.83, 95% CI: 0.50 - 6.75, P = 0.36), radiological resolution (OR: 1.98, 95% CI: 0.47 - 8.36, P value = 0.36) and the need for invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) (OR: 1.21, 95% CI: 0.34 - 4.33, P value = 0.76) were identical between the two groups. Overall, four times higher odds of net adverse events (NAEs) were observed in the HCQ group (OR: 4.59, 95% CI 1.73 - 12.20, P value = 0.02). The measures for individual safety endpoints were also numerically lower in the control arm; however, none of these values reached the level of statistical significance.

Conclusions: HCQ might offer no benefits in terms of decreasing the viral load and radiological improvement in patients with COVID-19. HCQ appears to be associated with higher odds of all-cause mortality and NAEs.

J Clin Med Res. 2020;12(8):483-491



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