Hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019: Rapid updated systematic review and meta-analysis

Rev Med Virol. 2022 Mar;32(2):e2276. doi: 10.1002/rmv.2276. Epub 2021 Jul 10.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 continues to grow and spread throughout the world since being declared a pandemic. Despite extensive scientific research globally including repurposing of several existing drugs, there is no effective or proven therapy for this enigmatic disease which is still largely managed empirically This systematic review evaluated the role of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the treatment of COVID-19 infection and was conducted using Cochrane methodology for systematic reviews of interventional studies including risk of bias assessment and grading of the quality of evidence. Only prospective clinical trials randomly assigning COVID-19 patients to HCQ plus standard of care therapy (test arm) versus placebo/standard of care (control arm) were included. Data were pooled using the random-effects model and expressed as risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). A total of 10,492 patients from 19 randomised controlled trials were included. The use of HCQ was not associated with higher rates of clinical improvement (RR = 1.00, 95% CI: 0.96-1.03, p = 0.79) or reduction in all-cause mortality by Day14 (RR = 1.07, 95% CI: 0.97-1.19, p = 0.19) or Day28 (RR = 1.08, 95% CI: 0.99-1.19, p = 0.09) compared to placebo/standard of care. There was no significant difference in serious adverse events between the two arms (RR = 1.01, 95% CI: 0.85-1.19, p = 0.95). There is low-to-moderate certainty evidence that HCQ therapy is generally safe but does not reduce mortality or enhance recovery in patients with COVID-19 infection.

Keywords: coronavirus; hydroxychloroquine; toxicity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine* / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Hydroxychloroquine

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19 drug treatment