COVID-19: a recommendation to examine the effect of hydroxychloroquine in preventing infection and progression

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2020 Jul 1;75(7):1667-1670. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkaa114.


A novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, has swept across 31 provinces in China and over 40 countries worldwide. The transition from first symptoms to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is highly likely to be due to uncontrolled cytokine release. There is an urgent need to identify safe and effective drugs for treatment. Chloroquine (CQ) exhibits a promising inhibitory effect. However, the clinical use of CQ can cause severe side effects. We propose that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which exhibits an antiviral effect highly similar to that of CQ, could serve as a better therapeutic approach. HCQ is likely to attenuate the severe progression of COVID-19, inhibiting the cytokine storm by suppressing T cell activation. It has a safer clinical profile and is suitable for those who are pregnant. It is cheaper and more readily available in China. We herein strongly urge that clinical trials are performed to assess the preventive effects of HCQ in both disease infection and progression.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / adverse effects
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects


  • Hydroxychloroquine