Hydroxychloroquine Drug Cocktail Lowers COVID-19 Hospitalizations by 84 Percent, Study Suggests

Hydroxychloroquine Drug Cocktail Lowers COVID-19 Hospitalizations by 84 Percent, Study Suggests
A pharmacy tech pours out hydroxychloroquine pills at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah in a file photograph. (George Frey/AFP via Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

A triple-drug cocktail containing the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine significantly lowered the hospitalization and the death rate of COVID-19 patients, a peer-reviewed study suggests.

The study, led by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko in partnership with German doctors Martin Scholz and Roland Derwand, examined the effectiveness of the triple therapy containing zinc, low-dose hydroxychloroquine, and azithromycin on 141 COVID-19 patients aged between 40 and 67.

The study, which determined that “Low-dose hydroxychloroquine combined with zinc and azithromycin was an effective therapeutic approach against COVID-19,” is set to be published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents in December.

Patients who tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus received a prescription for the triple therapy for a period of five days, and were compared to a control group of 377 confirmed COVID-19 patients, who did not receive the treatment.

The study found that the odds of hospitalization of treated patients was 84 percent less than in the untreated patients. In the treated group, four patients (2.8 percent) were hospitalized, in comparison to 58 (15.4 percent) of the untreated patients.

Of the treated patients, one patient (0.7 percent) died, compared to 13 patients (3.4 percent) in the untreated group, the researchers said.

“Risk stratification-based treatment of COVID-19 outpatients as early as possible after symptom onset using triple therapy, including the combination of zinc with low-dose hydroxychloroquine, was associated with significantly fewer hospitalisations,” they wrote.

The study states that in general, the triple therapy was well-tolerated, with 30 patients (21.3 percent) reporting weakness, 20 (14.2 percent) nausea, 15 (10.6 percent) diarrhoea, and 2 (1.4 percent) rash. The doctors totted that no patient-reported palpitations or any cardiac side effects.

Hydroxychloroquine and the closely related chloroquine have been closely scrutinized since President Donald Trump touted them earlier this year as potential treatments for COVID-19, a disease caused by the CCP virus. The drugs were prescribed for both hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients across the United States after anecdotal accounts suggested some efficacy against COVID-19.

Some clinical trials later found the anti-malarial was ineffective in certain dosages. Two trials studying the drug were stopped in the summer.
The most circulated study, a retrospective that researchers claimed involved nearly 100,000 patients, was retracted in early June after three of them said they couldn’t verify the figures.
Other studies have suggested hydroxychloroquine is effective. One showed it led to a higher rate of discharge from hospitals when combined with zinc and azithromycin.
Indian researchers said the anti-malarial is an effective prophylactic against the CCP virus.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.