Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 Study Paused Due to Lack of Participants

A trial investigating the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19 has quietly closed enrollment after failure to recruit enough participants, according to a report.

Henry Ford Health System’s Will Hydroxychloroquine Impede or Prevent COVID-19 (WHIP COVID-19) trial was a randomized, double-blinded study that sought to recruit 3,000 volunteers, but according to Bridge Michigan, only 624 people signed up.

The landing page for the WHIP COVID-19 trial does not give a specific date for when enrollment was paused, but according to Bridge Michigan, it happened in late December, around Christmastime.

“In ending the hydroxychloroquine study, Henry Ford said it was shifting its focus to vaccines as the ‘primary strategy of protecting our frontline workers,’ according to an emailed statement to Bridge Michigan attributed to Dr. John McKinnon, Henry Ford Health System infectious disease specialist and WHIP COVID-19 co-principal investigator,” Bridge Michigan further reported. It was also reported that a low volunteer rate, coupled with a low infection rate among the target group, led to the halt of the study.

According to the WHIP COVID-19 website, qualifications for participation included:

  • Current Healthcare worker in the States of Michigan or Ohio
  • Current First Responder in the States of Michigan or Ohio
  • Current Public Transit Driver in the States of Michigan or Ohio
  • Family member of a healthcare worker that resides in the same dwelling; in the states of Michigan or Ohio
  • Not currently taking Azithromycin (Z-pak), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), Fluconazole (Diflucan), Escitalopram (Lexapro), or Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Never previously diagnosed with COVID-19
  • No significant heart or retinal disease

The study was first announced on April 2, and enrollment opened on April 9, during a time that Detroit was experiencing a significant amount of COVID-19 cases. At the time of enrollment, Steven Kalkanis, MD, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Henry Ford Health System, said in a press release, “Detroit will lead the country in our war against COVID-19. Our hospital workers and first responders are heroes, reporting to duty every day in spite of COVID-19. And while this is only a study of an unproven medication – there are no proven cures or preventative treatments for COVID-19 – we owe it to them to look for ways to protect them.”