Detroit Study Reports Favorable COVID-19 Treatment Results

Henry Ford Health study of Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, and Combination in hospitalized COVID-19 patients
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(Precision Vaccinations)

A new study published by the Henry Ford Health System showed positive results when patients hospitalized with COVID-19 disease were treated with a U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved arthritis medicine, which also can be used to prevent or treat malaria.

In a large-scale retrospective analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized between March 10 and May 2, 2020, across the system’s 6 hospitals, the study found 13 percent of those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died from COVID-19 disease, compared to 26.4 percent not treated with hydroxychloroquine.

The vast majority of these Henry Ford patients received the drug soon after admission, 91 percent within 48 hours of hospital admission. The median age was 64 years old and 56 percent African American.

Furthermore, none of the patients in this observational study had documented serious heart abnormalities.

The study was published on July 2, 2020, in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the peer-reviewed, open-access online publication of the International Society of Infectious Diseases.

“The findings have been highly analyzed and peer-reviewed,” stated Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System, who co-authored the study with Henry Ford epidemiologist Dr. Samia Arshad, in a press release.

“We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment.”

“Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug.”

“And other studies are either not peer-reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations, or other differences from our patients.”

Dr. Zervos said the potential for a surge of coronavirus cases shows urgency in identifying inexpensive and effective therapies and preventions.

About 88 percent of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients are dying from respiratory failure. 

“We’re glad to add to the scientific knowledge base on the role and how best to use therapies as we work around the world to provide insight,” he said. 

“Considered in the context of current studies on the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, our results suggest that the drug may have an important role to play in reducing COVID-19 mortality.”

The study also found those treated with azithromycin alone or a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin also fared slightly better than those not treated with the drugs, according to the Henry Ford data. 

The analysis found 22.4 percent of those treated only with azithromycin died, and 20.1 percent treated with a combination of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine died, compared to 26.4 percent of patients dying who were not treated with either medication.

Overall, hospital system patients in the study experienced an 18.1 percent in-hospital mortality rate. 

Patients who died commonly were older, caucasian, had serious underlying diseases, including chronic kidney and lung disease.

Mortality as high as 58 percent has been seen among patients requiring ICU care and mechanical ventilation.

COVID-19 disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there is no known effective therapy or vaccine for COVID-19 disease. 

Hydroxychloroquine is available in the USA by prescription only. The drug is sold under the brand name Plaquenil in the USA and it is also sold as a generic medicine. 

It is commonly used by patients with arthritis, lupus, or other rheumatic conditions.

Dr. Zervos also pointed out, as does the paper, that the study results should be interpreted with some caution, should not be applied to patients treated outside of hospital settings and require further confirmation in prospective, randomized controlled trials that rigorously evaluate the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine therapy for COVID-19.

“Currently, the drug should be used only in hospitalized patients with appropriate monitoring, and as part of study protocols, in accordance with all relevant federal regulations,” Dr. Zervos said.

The Henry Ford Health System is currently also involved in a prophylactic hydroxychloroquine study: “Will Hydroxychloroquine Impede or Prevent COVID-19,” or WHIP COVID-19. 

The study is a 3,000-person, randomized, double-blinded look at whether hydroxychloroquine prevents healthcare and frontline workers from contracting the COVID-19 virus. 

The WHIP COVID-19 team is working on expanding study sites while there is a lull in the number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Michigan. This is in preparation for a potential increase of COVID-19 cases as Fall flu season approaches.

The WHIP COVID-19 team is also taking this gift of time to reach out to other areas of the world that are seeing a blossoming of cases: Brazil and Argentina.

Conflict of Interest: S.H. received speakers’ bureau honoraria from Bayer. I.B. received speakers’ bureau honoraria from Gilead, ViiV, and Janssen, M.Z received consultation honoraria from contrafact. 

All others have no conflicts of interest. Funding Internal Support By Henry Ford Health System.

Precision Vaccinations publishes coronavirus treatment news.