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The use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the prophylaxis and treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has received significant attention by politicians and media figures. This has occurred despite limited data supporting its efficacy in COVID-19 as well as considerable concern about its safety when used at high doses (>400 mg daily) and in combination with other QT interval prolonging drugs.1–4
An inaccurate narrative has emerged in recent weeks that patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who are taking HCQ as a baseline therapy are less affected by or do not develop COVID-19.5–7 This assumption has been challenged by Monti and Montecucco,8 referencing data from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance registry on patients with rheumatic disease that previously identified 19/110 (17%) patients with SLE.9 A case series of 17 patients with lupus or antiphospholipid syndrome who developed COVID-19 on a median HCQ dose of 400 mg daily (median HCQ blood level of 648 ng/mL) has since become available.10 As of 17 April 2020, we have now identified 80 patients with SLE and COVID-19 in the global physician-reported registry. Patients were predominantly female (72/80, 90%) and less than 65 years of age (69/80, 86%). Importantly, 64% (51/80) of patients with SLE were taking an antimalarial (HCQ or chloroquine) prior to infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (30% as monotherapy). Notably, 21.1% (121/573) of all reported patients with rheumatic disease in the registry were treated with an antimalarial prior to onset of COVID-19, yet 49.6% (60/121) required hospitalisation. In patients with SLE, frequency of hospitalisation with COVID-19 …
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