BACKGROUND: Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was proposed as potential treatment for COVID-19.
OBJECTIVE: We set-up a multicenter Italian collaboration to investigate the relationship between HCQ therapy and COVID-19 in-hospital mortality.
METHODS: In a retrospective observational study, 3,451 unselected patients hospitalized in 33 clinical centers in Italy, from February 19, 2020 to May 23, 2020, with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, were analyzed. The primary end-point in a time-to event analysis was in-hospital death, comparing patients who received HCQ with patients who did not. We used multivariable Cox proportional-hazards regression models with inverse probability for treatment weighting by propensity scores, with the addition of subgroup analyses.
RESULTS: Out of 3,451 COVID-19 patients, 76.3% received HCQ. Death rates (per 1,000 person-days) for patients receiving or not HCQ were 8.9 and 15.7, respectively. After adjustment for propensity scores, we found 30% lower risk of death in patients receiving HCQ (HR=0.70; 95%CI: 0.59 to 0.84; E-value=1.67). Secondary analyses yielded similar results. The inverse association of HCQ with inpatient mortality was particularly evident in patients having elevated C-reactive protein at entry.
CONCLUSIONS: HCQ use was associated with a 30% lower risk of death in COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Within the limits of an observational study and awaiting results from randomized controlled trials, these data do not discourage the use of HCQ in inpatients with COVID-19.