The authors of a study that had claimed the drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) had shown harmful effects and no benefits among COVID-19 patients, have retracted their paper published in The Lancet. The study was published on May 22, 2020. The retraction notice has been published on June 4, 2020.
The retraction does not mean that HCQ is safe to use for COVID-19 treatment or prevention. It only means that the data in this one paper were not found to be robust. Many other studies and trials on this drug are under way, including in India, as IndiaSpend reported on May 24.
In their notice on retraction, the co-authors of the paper said that they have launched a third-party inquiry into the data used in their paper but "can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources". The Lancet, on its part, said that they take "issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously".
The World Health Organization's (WHO) Solidarity trial had recently paused its trial arm that was testing HCQ for COVID-19. On June 3, the WHO also decided to resume the trial for HCQ, saying the WHO's executive group has "endorsed continuation of all arms of the Solidarity Trial, including hydroxychloroquine". Its data safety and monitoring committee will continue to “closely monitor the safety of all therapeutics being tested in the Solidarity Trial”.
“We acted in the safety interests of patients in the trial, relying on the advice of our steering comm. It is v difficult for us to check data quality of each published paper & we trust authors to adhere to basic stds. HCQ restarted today after data safety committee approval,” said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, in a tweet.