Mortality outcomes with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19: an international collaborative meta-analysis of randomized trials
Cathrine Axfors, Andreas Schmitt, Perrine Janiaud, Janneke van 't Hooft, Sherief Abd-Elsalam, Ehab F Abdo, Benjamin S Abella, Javed Akram, Ravi K Amaravadi, Derek C Angus, Yaseen M Arabi, Shehnoor Azhar (+82 others)
Substantial COVID-19 research investment has been allocated to randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine, which currently face recruitment challenges or early discontinuation. We aimed to estimate the effects of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine on survival in COVID-19 from all currently available RCT evidence, published and unpublished. We conducted a rapid meta-analysis of ongoing, completed, or discontinued RCTs on hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine treatment for any COVID-19 patients (protocol: https://osf.io/QESV4/). We systematically identified unpublished RCTs (ClinicalTrials.gov, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, Cochrane COVID-registry up to June 11, 2020), and published RCTs (PubMed, medRxiv and bioRxiv up to October 16, 2020). All-cause mortality was extracted (publications/preprints) or requested from investigators and combined in random-effects meta-analyses, calculating odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), separately for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Prespecified subgroup analyses included patient setting, diagnostic confirmation, control type, and publication status. Sixty-three trials were potentially eligible. We included 14 unpublished trials (1308 patients) and 14 publications/preprints (9011 patients). Results for hydroxychloroquine are dominated by RECOVERY and WHO SOLIDARITY, two highly pragmatic trials, which employed relatively high doses and included 4716 and 1853 patients, respectively (67% of the total sample size). The combined OR on all-cause mortality for hydroxychloroquine was 1.11 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.20; I2=0%; 26 trials; 10,012 patients) and for chloroquine 1.77 (95%CI: 0.15, 21.13, I2=0%; 4 trials; 307 patients). We identified no subgroup effects. We found that treatment with hydroxychloroquine was associated with increased mortality in COVID-19 patients, and there was no benefit of chloroquine. Findings have unclear generalizability to outpatients, children, pregnant women, and people with comorbidities.
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