MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have published results from a study which determine that hydroxychloroquine is not able to prevent symptoms of COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine – a commonly used anti-malaria drug – has been the topic of much controversy over the past couple months. President Donald Trump repeatedly promoted it and even took the drug without clear evidence of its effectiveness in treating COVID-19.

The University of Minnesota’s study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, determined approximately 12% of those given the drug developed COVID-19 symptoms, compared to 14% in those given the vitamin placebo. The statistical difference, they said, was nonexistent; it would equate to treating 42 people with hydroxychloroquine in order to prevent one infection.

Additionally, 40% of participants who took hydroxychloroquine developed side-effects: nausea, an upset stomach, or diarrhea. But the participants did not develop cardiac complications or other serious side-effects.

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The 821 participants were comprised of non-hospitalized adults who were living with someone who had contracted COVID-19. Others included healthcare workers and first responders. Half of the participants received hydroxychloroquine for five days, while the other half received a placebo for five days.

Participants were then followed for two weeks to see who developed COVID-19 symptoms. The trial was randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind.

Dr. David Boulware, the senior investigator, launched the trial on March 17, with the hope of finding an inexpensive and accessible medication which could treat COVID-19 in its early stages.

“While we are disappointed that this did not prevent COVID-19, we are pleased that we were able to provide a conclusive answer,” he said.

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