Scientists are raising questions about a study published recently in The Lancet that linked antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to increased heart risks and death among COVID-19 patients, reported Bloomberg.
A group of some 120 researchers signed a letter pointing out inconsistencies, calling on the authors and The Lancet to reveal greater details about their analysis. Specifically, the letter called on the US company holding the data for the study, Surgisphere, to provide more information, and for an independent evaluation of the analysis.
Not long after study was published, the World Health Organization (WHO) suspended a portion of a global trial of potential COVID-19 treatments that included the antimalarials because of possible safety concerns.
On Friday, the WHO released a summary of its results to date, saying it found little or no benefit from use of the drugs compared with standard care, whether or not they were paired with an antibiotic, although it cautioned that the evidence was of "very low certainty."
The letter pointed out 14 major shortcomings in The Lancet paper, including that computer code used to analyze the data was not made public, and that no information was included on the medical centers that contributed data.
It also said that rates of deaths reported from Africa seemed "unlikely," that the daily doses purportedly received by some US patients appeared higher than recommended, and that the level of chloroquine use in some continents was "implausible."
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