This wasn’t a randomized clinical trial of the sort that confirmed the efficacy of remdesivir. This was just an observational trial, i.e. doctors at New York-Presbyterian started giving the drug to certain coronavirus patients to see if it would help based on the encouraging small studies out of China and France.
It didn’t work. The result does come with a footnote: Hydroxychloroquine tended to be given to patients who started off sicker than those who didn’t receive the drug, which makes sense under the circumstances. The more desperate someone’s condition is, the more a doctor will be willing to try anything to help them recover. But “widely accepted methods [of analysis] were used to take that into account and still no benefit was seen for the drug,” said the AP of the results. Maybe a clinical trial will show that HCQ has some benefit if administered earlier in the course of the illness.
But the number of discouraging observational studies is growing. A different preliminary study conducted in New York hospitals also found no benefit. Same with a study of patients at VA hospitals, where those who received the drug actually died more often than those who didn’t.