Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2021 Nov 15;17:1187-1198. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S330813. eCollection 2021.
INTRODUCTION: Though chloroquine derivatives are used in the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in many countries worldwide, doubts remain about the safety and efficacy of these drugs, especially in African communities where published data are scarce.
METHODS: We conducted an observational prospective cohort study from April 24 to September 03, 2020, in Burkina Faso to assess (as primary outcome) the clinical, biological, and cardiac (electrocardiographic) safety of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin administered to COVID-19 patients. The main secondary outcomes were all-cause mortality and median time of viral clearance.
RESULTS: A total of 153 patients were enrolled and followed for 21 days. Among patients who took at least one dose of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine (90.1% [138/153]), few clinical adverse events were reported and were mainly rash/pruritus, diarrhea, chest pain, and palpitations. No statistically significant increase in hepatic, renal, and hematological parameters or electrolyte disorders were reported. However, there was a significant increase in the QTc value without exceeding 500ms, especially in those who received chloroquine phosphate. Three adverse events of special interest classified as serious (known from chloroquine derivatives) were recorded namely pruritus, paresthesia, and drowsiness. One case of death occurred. The average onset of SARS-CoV-2 PCR negativity was estimated at 7.0 (95% CI: 5.0-10.0) days.
CONCLUSION: Hydroxychloroquine appeared to be well tolerated in treated COVID-19 patients in Burkina Faso. In the absence of a robust methodological approach that could generate a high level of scientific evidence, our results could at least contribute to guide health decisions that should be made based on different sources of scientific evidence including those from our study.