Covid-19. Did hydroxychloroquine kill over 16,000 people in early 2020, as one study claims?

Associated with azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine was presented from the start of the pandemic as a miracle treatment against Covid-19 by the bubbling professor Didier Raoult. All studies have since demonstrated its ineffectiveness, even its dangerousness. Hydroxychloroquine remains to this day one of the most tested molecules in the world.

An estimation “

According to the results of a study carried out by the University of Lyon, and presented at the congress of the French Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (SFPT) in mid-June, it would have caused the death of several thousand people.

The agency specializing in the field of health APMnews devoted a long article to him this Thursday, June 16.

The detailed presentation of this study, which is still “under review”, was published by the publishing house John Wiley & Sons, which specializes in this type of study.

The objective of the scientists was clear: “To estimate the number of deaths caused by hydroxychloroquine in the world”. With our colleagues from Le Parisien, one of the authors, Professor Jean-Christophe Lega, explains:

We wanted to reconstruct a posteriori the impact of taking hydroxychloroquine

Professor Jean-Christophe Lega

The study covers the first wave of the pandemic, namely from February to July 2020. The researchers looked at eight countries (France, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, United States), depending on the level of use of hydroxychloroquine in each of them in patients hospitalized with Covid-19, from 6 to 92%.

11% excess mortality with hydroxychloroquine

The study then uses the “all-cause” mortality rate of these patients treated with the controversial molecule, based on a meta-analysis, published in Nature in 2021. The researchers had concluded that there was an excess mortality of 11% in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine.

Result: according to the first conclusions of the researchers, the famous drug caused the avoidable death of 16,274 patients. Two-thirds of these deaths were recorded in the United States, a country which both recorded nearly a million hospitalizations over the period, and used hydroxychloroquine a lot. It is in Brazil that the figures are the lowest, with only 3,082 officially recorded Covid hospitalizations.

In France, researchers estimate that hydroxychloroquine killed between 115 and 293 patients. That is barely 1% of deaths due to Covid-19 itself over the period, but “115 to 293 deaths too many”, estimates Jean-Christophe Lega.

The study also recalls that these results are “probably underestimated due to the lack of data in most countries”. The first version of the summary also reports “only” 9,500 dead, or 7,000 less, before “readjustment”. In question :

“Concrete consequences”

With such a difference, is this data reliable? The team assumes that it did not want to give an “exact” figure, but to show “the concrete consequences” of the prescription of an unsuitable drug. Even if it means voluntarily “reducing” a much higher balance sheet in any case:

Indeed, as pharmacology professor Mathieu Molimard reminds us, we should also add all “indirect deaths following a refusal of vaccination”, who turned away from vaccines because they thought, wrongly, that we had “a treatment inexpensive effective”.

Deadly effects known from 2020

Professor Arnaud Fontanet, guest of C à vous on Wednesday evening, does not say anything else:

It was a treatment that was ineffective, and its use independently of the adverse effects associated with excess mortality could also have deprived people of chances who thought they were protected but were not.

Pr Arnaud Fontanet, on France 5

As early as April 2020, the first observations on the administration of hydroxychloroquine, whether or not associated with azithromycin, reported numerous serious adverse effects, including several deaths, as recalled by a report drawn up at the time by several studies, listed by the Vidal. In particular serious heart problems, which can lead to death, as has always been indicated in the drug’s instructions.

45% of doctors prescribed it in the hospital

In France, 45% of hospital doctors treating Covid-19 patients before May 2020 said they had prescribed hydroxychloroquine to these patients.

“It was considered unethical not to treat,” insisted Professor Lega, “while the first principle [du serment d’Hippocrate, ndlr] is to do no harm. »

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