Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2021 Feb 15;11(1):93-107. eCollection 2021.
The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused significant morbidity and mortality worldwide and an effective treatment is needed. Chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) have shown in vitro antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 which causes the disease, but the evidence from in vivo studies so far has been inconclusive.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of CQ and HCQ in the treatment of COVID-19.
DATA SOURCES: We systematically searched the PubMed, Embase, MEDLINE, Cochrane CENTRAL, CINAHL, Scopus, Joanna Briggs Institute Database, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (ChiCTR) for all articles published between 01 January 2020 to 15 September 2020 on CQ/HCQ and COVID-19 using a predefined search protocol; without any language restrictions. A search of grey literature repositories (New York Academy of Medicine Grey Literature and Open Grey), and pre-publication server deposits (medRxIV and bioRxIV) was also performed.
STUDY SELECTION: Randomized clinical trials (RCT) which compared CQ/HCQ to standard supportive therapy in treating COVID-19 were included.
DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Data were extracted from original publications by four independent reviewers. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration's assessment tool. Data were meta-analyzed using a random-effect models. Results are reported according to PRISMA guidelines. Main Outcome(s) and Measure(s): The primary prespecified efficacy outcome was all-cause mortality. The primary safety outcome was any adverse effect attributed to use of CQ/HCQ.
RESULTS: Eight RCTs were included and pooled in the mortality meta-analysis (6,592 unique participants; mean age = 59.4 years; 42% women). CQ/HCQ did not show any mortality benefit when compared to standard supportive therapy (Pooled Relative Risk [RR] 1.07; 95% CI = 0.97-1.18; I2 statistic = 0.00%). Sensitivity and sub-group analyses showed similar findings. Any adverse event was significantly higher in patients randomized to CQ/HCQ (RR = 2.51; 95% CI = 1.53-4.12; n = 1,818 patients), but the risk of developing severe adverse event was not statistically significant (RR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.53-1.86; n = 6,456 patients).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Evidence from currently published RCTs do not demonstrate any added benefit for the use of CQ or HCQ in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.