The association of treatment with hydroxychloroquine and hospital mortality in COVID-19 patients

Intern Emerg Med. 2020 Sep 30;1-6. doi: 10.1007/s11739-020-02505-x. Online ahead of print.


This study investigates the association between the treatment with hydroxychloroquine and mortality in patients admitted with COVID-19. Routinely recorded, clinical data, up to the 24th of April 2020, from the 2075 patients with COVID-19, admitted in 17 hospitals in Spain between the 1st of March and the 20th of April 2020 were used. The following variables were extracted for this study: age, gender, temperature, and saturation of oxygen on admission, treatment with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, heparin, steroids, tocilizumab, a combination of lopinavir with ritonavir, and oseltamivir, together with data on mortality. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to investigate the associations. At the time of collecting the data, 301 patients had died, 1449 had been discharged home from the hospitals, 240 were still admitted, and 85 had been transferred to hospitals not included in the study. Median follow-up time was 8 (IQR 5-12) days. Hydroxychloroquine had been used in 1857 patients. Hydroxychloroquine was associated with lower mortality when the model was adjusted for age and gender, with OR (95% CI): 0.44 (0.29-0.67). This association remained significant when saturation of oxygen < 90% and temperature > 37 °C were added to de model with OR 0.45 (0.30-0.68) p < 0.001, and also when all the other drugs, and time of admission, were included as covariates. The association between hydroxychloroquine and lower mortality observed in this study can be acknowledged by clinicians in hospitals and in the community. Randomized-controlled trials to assess the causal effects of hydroxychloroquine in different therapeutic regimes are required.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus infections; Hydroxychloroquine; Mortality.