Clin Rheumatol. 2021 Jan 15. doi: 10.1007/s10067-020-05572-9. Online ahead of print.
In the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Belgian health authorities endorsed the interim guidelines for the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia: hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) recommended for treatment of hospitalized patients with moderate to severe disease. As a growing number of patients were admitted, inevitably, our internal medicine team questioned the efficacy and safety of HCQ, especially with regard to cardiac side effects. In parallel with our concerns, data regarding the safety and efficacy of HCQ were published, with discordant results and debate in the medical community. Media coverage of the possible risks and benefits of HCQ use in COVID-19 also caused confusion amongst the public. In this Perspectives in Rheumatology article, we review the use and safety of HCQ in autoimmune disease and its putative efficacy and toxicity in COVID-19. Finally, we share our concern about the future of this widely used and inexpensive drug after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.