An under discussed part of the Guatret 2020 study is the somewhat buried data that the hydroxycholoroquine treatment group had 6 participants “lost to follow up” (a term referring to participants dropped or dropping out of the study) while the control group had no participants lost to follow up. The reasons for loss to follow up in the hydroxycholoquine treatment group included 3 transfers to the ICU, and 1 death.
I have just sent out the email below to Dr Raoult to seek clarification:
I read your study on hydroxychlorquine treatment of COVID-19 with great interest.
The reported results are very promising regarding viral clearance but I am concerned about 4 participants lost to follow up in the treatment group; 3 ICU transfers and 1 death. I am writing to clarify whether I am reading the study correctly. This information indicates that the treatment group had 1 death and the control group had no deaths, is this correct? Also, were all ICU transfers “lost to follow up” ? That is, were there 3 ICU transfers in the treatment group but none in the control group?
If my reading of this study is correct, then does this not indicate a risk for more severe COVID-19 course with hydroxychloroquine treatment? I realize that the groups where not well matched and the older age in the treatment group may explain the severe outcomes. However, given the potential harm suggested by this aspect of the study is caution not warranted?
I would prefer to wait for clarification from the author before pushing this issue publicly. However, given the fast moving nature of the COVID-19 response and White House guidance pushing this drug I feel an early alert for caution is necessary.