Henry Ford says their study found hydroxychloroquine helps lower COVID-19 death rate

You've heard the name before - hydoxychloroquine. It's the anti-malaria drug that's also used to treat Lupus that President Trump says he once took to prevent COVID-19. Now the medical team at Henry Ford Hospital is weighing in.

Back in March when Metro Detroit was seeing peak numbers of coronavirus, Henry Ford Hospital initiated a study on its first 2,500 COVID-19 patients.

"What we found is that of those patients treated with hydroxychloroquine there was a 13% overall mortality; in the patients that were not treated with hydroxychloroquine there was a 26% mortality," said Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of Henry Ford Medical Group. 

"We felt it was important to release to the world for potential treatment reasons our results here," said Dr. Marcus Zervos, the Division Head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System.

The patients included in this study, which wrapped up in May, were very sick and had underlying medical issues. But doctors also found that when the drug was administered to these patients, it played a key part in survival rates.

"For hydroxychloroquine to have a benefit it needs to be given before the patient suffers some of the severe immune reaction that can occur with COVID," Dr. Kalkanis said.

So how does this drug work in the treatment of COVID-19?

"The mechanism of action is that it inhibits the virus from getting in the cell but also inhibits the inflammation response," Dr. Kalkanis said. 

These medical experts do not recommend using this drug outside of a hospital setting, and they admit that more research is needed on its use in treating COVID-19. But they do see this research as a key step in moving forward and decreasing the death rate.

"These are critical important results to add to the mix of how we move forward if there is a second surge and, relevant for other parts of the world, how we can help people combat this disease," Dr. Zervos said.