Coronavirus: Malaria drug pushed by Trump as COVID-19 cure has no benefit, research finds

A drug championed by the US president as a possible cure for COVID-19 has been shown to provide no benefit and possibly a higher risk of death.

Hydroxychloroquine had been championed by Mr Trump after anecdotal reports that the drug, which is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, could help coronavirus patients.

However the new study found it might actually be harmful to those with the disease.

The American research analysed the records of 368 male patients with confirmed coronavirus.

They were all at veterans’ hospitals in the US and died or were discharged by 11 April, according to a version of the study posted online.

Some 28% of 97 patients given hydroxychloroquine and standard care died, while 22% of the 113 patients who were given hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin died.

But the death rate among the 158 patients who received only standard care – without hydroxychloroquine – was 11%.

The study, which took patients’ individual characteristics into account, has not yet been accepted for publication in a medical journal but it has been submitted for expert review.

Hydroxychloroquine also appeared to have no effect on whether a patient needed breathing support: 13% of those who got the drug needed ventilation, versus 14% of those who received only supportive care.

Only 7% of those given the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin needed help to breathe.

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