Zwolle doctors investigated how malaria medicine HCQ can still help with corona


The study was conducted in fourteen Dutch hospitals and was led by internist infectiologists Jolanda Lammers and Paul Groeneveld from Isala.

Lammers and Groeneveld are convinced that the beneficial effect is a result of the early administration of HCQ. In patients receiving the related chloroquine, there was no significant effect on the number of ICU admissions compared to standard care.

British study

In the meantime, many studies have been published showing that HCQ would have no or even a negative effect on covid-19 patients. The most extensive is the UK Recovery trial, with thousands of patients participating.

That study looked at the effect of HCQ on mortality 28 days after the onset of covid-19. That effect was not there. The UK study led to the halt of many other studies.

Critically ill patients

Lammers: “The Recovery trial often involved seriously ill patients. Moreover, in many cases they only received hydroxychloroquine and a relatively high dose after many days,” says Lammers.

“We looked at nearly 1,100 patients treated from day one. And we looked until their discharge from the hospital, admission to the ICU or death.”

‘Just like pneumonia’

So it only concerned people in the covid wards. “Not too sick patients. In that early stage of the infection we see a positive effect of the treatment with HCQ.”

Her colleague Groeneveld adds: “It’s actually just like pneumonia. Then you give antibiotics to prevent it from getting worse and people have to go to the ICU.”

Study looking back

The Dutch study is a so-called retrospective, observational study. The researchers looked back at the fare of patients who were admitted to hospital with covid-19 in March of this year.

During that time, the treatment guidelines for covid-19 patients left physicians a choice between prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the closely related chloroquine, or standard care.

Spontaneous control groups

“That’s what makes our study special,” says Groeneveld. Because hospitals could choose how to treat patients during the first corona wave, a kind of control groups were created spontaneously.

One hospital gave its patients HCQ, the other chloroquine and the third standard care. HCQ is now mainly given to rheumatism patients and also to people with Q fever.


Both infectiologists emphasize that their research results must be confirmed in a so-called randomized controlled trial, a study in which comparable patients are blindly divided between a treatment group and one or more control groups.

The article by the Zwolle researchers has already been assessed on value by colleagues.

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