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Coronavirus

Belgium’s Health Authorities Advise against the Use of Hydroxychloroquine

BRUSSELS — Belgium’s institute for health is advising against the use of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients after global studies suggested it is ineffective.

The announcement came after the World Health Organization said it would temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments. A paper published last week in the Lancet showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those that were not.

In an update of the clinical guidance for adults diagnosed with the coronavirus, Sciensano said several studies didn't find any benefit to the drug and indicated a possible harmful effect.

“Overall, based on these recent observational findings which all consistently point to an absence of benefit related to hydroxychloroquine use, and possibly some harmful effect, it has been decided not to recommend its off-label use for COVID-19 in Belgium anymore, except within ongoing clinical registered trials after careful reassessment of the study-related risk/benefit,” the institute said.

Belgium, a country of 11.5 million inhabitants, has reported more than 57,000 virus cases and about 9,000 deaths.

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