Health Highlights: May 12, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

New Study Latest to Show Hydroxychloroquine Ineffective Against COVID-19

Yet another study shows that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine — promoted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19 — doesn’t work against the illness.

It also found that hydroxychloroquine puts patients at risk for heart problems.

The study included more than 1,400 COVID-19 patients admitted to 25 New York City area hospitals. Death rates were similar for those who received hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin, and those who weren’t given hydroxychloroquine, CNN reported.

Patients who took the hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin combination had a more than two times higher risk of cardiac arrest, the University of Albany researchers said. Heart problems are a known side effect of hydroxychloroquine.

The study was the largest of its kind and was published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It follows a study published last Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine that also showed hydroxychloroquine is ineffective against COVID-19.

“The nail has virtually been put in the coffin of hydroxychloroquine,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and longtime adviser to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN.

“The big takeaway for me from this study is that it’s very consistent with the FDA and NIH guidelines that came out in April,” said study co-senior author David Holtgrave, dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany.

“When deciding on public health interventions and treatments for COVID-19 or any other disease, it’s really important to follow the data and follow the science and make sure decisions are being made on the highest quality data possible,” he told CNN.


Trump Administration Suggests COVID-19 Testing at All U.S. Nursing Homes

Coronavirus testing should be conducted on all residents and staff at U.S. nursing homes over the next two weeks, the White House suggested to state governors Monday.

However, the Trump administration isn’t ordering testing at the more than 15,000 nursing homes nationwide and the reason for not doing so is unclear, the Associated Press reported.

It’s also not known why the administration is recommending testing now, more than two months after the first major COVID-19 outbreak at a U.S. nursing home.

Nursing homes should have been given priority for testing from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We’re two months into it,” she told the AP. “If they had done that to begin with, we would’ve picked up cases early and we wouldn’t have so many deaths.”

There have been more than 27,000 COVID-19 deaths among residents and staff at U.S. nursing homes and long-term care facilities, which is about a third of all 80,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States, according to the AP.