More than 100 scientists and clinicians have questioned the authenticity of an influential study that concluded that treating people who have Covid-19 with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine did not help and might have increased the risk of abnormal heart rhythms and death, a report in the New York Times said.
In an open letter to The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, and the paper’s authors, the scientists asked the journal to provide details about the provenance of the data and called for the study to be independently validated by the World Health Organization or another institution, the report added.
Use of the malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to prevent and treat Covid-19 has been a focus of intense public attention.
US President Donald Trump has promoted the promise of hydroxychloroquine, despite the absence of gold-standard evidence from randomized clinical trials to prove its effectiveness, and recently said he was taking it himself in hopes of preventing coronavirus infection.
The scientists’ challenges to The Lancet paper come at a time of increasing debate about the risks of the rush to publish new medical findings of Covid-19.
The paper, published May 22, included data on tens of thousands of patients hospitalized through April 14, meaning that the authors analyzed the trove of data, wrote the paper, and went through the journal’s peer review of its findings in just over five weeks, much faster than usual.