Efficacy and safety of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in moderate type of COVID-19: a prospective open-label randomized controlled study

Source: MEDxiv


The outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a pandemic. Drug repurposing may represent a rapid way to fill the urgent need for effective treatment.

We evaluated the clinical utility of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19. Forty-eight patients with moderate COVID-19 were randomized to oral treatment with chloroquine (1000 mg QD on Day 1, then 500 mg QD for 9 days; n=18), hydroxychloroquine (200 mg BID for 10 days; n=18), or control treatment (n=12).

Adverse events were mild, except for one case of Grade 2 ALT elevation. Adverse events were more commonly observed in the chloroquine group (44.44%) and the hydroxychloroquine group (50.00%) than in the control group (16.67%). The chloroquine group achieved shorter time to clinical recovery (TTCR) than the control group (P=0.019).

There was a trend toward reduced TTCR in the hydroxychloroquine group (P=0.049). The time to reach viral RNA negativity was significantly faster in the chloroquine group and the hydroxychloroquine group than in the control group (P=0.006 and P=0.010, respectively).

The median numbers of days to reach RNA negativity in the chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and control groups was 2.5 (IQR: 2.0-3.8) days, 2.0 (IQR: 2.0-3.5) days, and 7.0 (IQR: 3.0-10.0) days, respectively.

The chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine groups also showed trends toward improvement in the duration of hospitalization and findings on lung computerized tomography (CT). This study provides evidence that (hydroxy)chloroquine may be used effectively in treating moderate COVID-19 and supports larger trials.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Clinical Trial


Funding Statement

This study was funded by the Medical and Health Key project of Xiamen (3502Z20191106), which is a project of the Xiamen Science and Technology Bureau (3502Z20194016).

Author Declarations

I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.


The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:

Xiamen zhongshan hospital

All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.


I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).


I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.



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