More Clues on Potential Treatments

Hydroxychloroquine did not prevent people exposed to COVID-19 from developing the disease, STAT reports, citing research published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday.
Sarah Lofgren, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and a co-author of the first double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the malaria drug, concluded the drug does not seem to work “in the setting of post-exposure prophylaxis.”
Still, “This is not the end of the story with hydroxychloroquine,” says Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute; more studies are underway—but he says it is looking like any benefit to prevent infections will likely be small.

In other treatment news: JAMA published results from the first randomized clinical trial of convalescent plasma therapy. It found the therapy did not significantly speed improvement in a small study of patients in China.

In an accompanying JAMA commentary, Arturo Casadevall and colleagues who launched a US convalescent plasma initiative noted the clinical trial was “terminated prematurely and underpowered.” But they also found reasons for optimism, including the possible benefit of the therapy for patients with severe disease (whose median age was over 70), which “cannot be overstated.”

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