COVID-19 Prevalence and Outcomes among Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Taking Hydroxychloroquine; A Retrospective Analysis

The Open Rheumatology Journal 15 Oct 2021 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874312902115010069



The SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic has resulted in a universal search for potential treatments of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Initial reports of the therapeutic potential of chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and early non-randomized non-controlled studies were followed by subsequent trials refuting such properties. The use of CQ and HCQ in diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), prompted us to examine the prevalence of COVID-19 and proposed prophylactic and therapeutic properties of HCQ in this population.


A total of 103 patients with RA and SLE aged 18 to 75 diagnosed with COVID-19 were identified. The patients were categorized as those taking HCQ (cases) and those not on HCQ (controls) for at least 6 months. Primary (mechanical ventilation, length of stay, death) and secondary outcomes were defined, data were collected, and results were compared and statistically analyzed between cases and controls.


No statistical difference was observed in demographic features, baseline comorbidities, and medications. Primary outcomes’ statistical analysis did not reveal any differences between cases and controls. Statistical analysis of secondary outcomes revealed that cases had a statistically higher chance of being tachypneic (p 0.034). D-Dimer (p 0.017) and LDH levels (p 0.044) were found to be significantly lower in cases versus controls.


This study highlights the lack of clinical prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy of HCQ against COVID-19 when taken at regular doses for patients with RA and SLE. It also shows that the prevalence of COVID-19 was similar in RA and SLE patients regardless of baseline consumption of HCQ.

Keywords: COVID-19, Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine, Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Medications.
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