Hydroxychloroquine Probably Doesn’t Work For COVID-19

It really doesn’t

Gideon M-K; Health Nerd


Pictured: Drugs. Probably not Hydroxychloroquine, but a very nice photo so here we are. Source: Pexels

There are some pieces that you never really expect to write. Whether it’s geophagy, or people literally eating dirt, drinking blood to prevent aging, or just the ongoing saga about whether meat is deadly or perfectly curative for health, there are a lot of topics that I’ve covered over the years that are, well, a bit strange.

And yet, in some ways this feels like the strangest. If you’d told me in 2019 that we’d be debating the benefits of an anti-malarial medication for pandemic disease despite a mountain of evidence that it didn’t work, I’d probably have giggled nervously and walked away.

Stock photo search results for “nervous” are…odd, to say the least. Source: Pexels

Which brings us to hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). One of the strangest stories that I have ever written.

It probably doesn’t work for coronavirus. We knew that some time ago. But somehow, it’s still a debate to be had.

The Evidence

Back in the heady days of early 2020, before we had all locked down and politicized medications, HCQ was just another drug that people thought might be useful for COVID-19. There were dozens, even hundreds, of proposed treatments, so one more drug didn’t seem like a big deal — we could test it, see if it worked, and then use or discard it just like all the others.

Pictured: Not special. Drugs usually aren’t. Source: Pexels

And we did do those tests. Massive, well-conducted studies, with appropriate scientific controls that looked at the question of whether HCQ helped with coronavirus. The results are in, so what did they find?

Hydroxychloroquine probably doesn’t work for coronavirus. It doesn’t help people who have severe illness. It doesn’t prevent illness in high-risk groups. There’s no evidence it benefits people with mild disease either, even in combination with azithromycin. There’s still a bit of a question mark over whether HCQ might reduce the risk of getting the disease for people who are low-risk, but the initial results are