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Hydroxychloroquine. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Editor’s note: The study referenced in this story has been retracted by the medical journal The Lancet due to questions on the veracity of its primary data sources. Read more here.

Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

Why it matters: Despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, President Trump has insisted the anti-malarial drug as a "game-changer" and admitted he has taken it as a preventative even though the drug is unproven.

The big picture: The medical journal's review consisted of 96,000 hospitalized patients diagnosed with the coronavirus in six continents, the largest analysis of medical records on the drug, between Dec. 20, 2019, and April 14, 2020.

  • About 15,000 of the 96,000 patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine alone, or combined with an antibiotic known as a macrolide.

The findings: Those given the drug alone had a 34% increased risk of dying and a 137% increased risk of heart arrhythmias.

  • Those who took the drug paired with an antibiotic had a 45% increased risk of death and a 411% risk of heart arrhythmias. This combination is one President Trump has been encouraging.

The mean age of patients was 54 years old and 53% were men.

  • Those excluded were those on mechanical ventilators or who received remdesivir, an antiviral drug made by Gilead Sciences.

The bottom line: The FDA has adamantly warned against taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine because of the risk of heart complications and unproven claims it prevents COVID-19 infections.

Go deeper: Stunned Fox News host reacts to Trump taking hydroxychloroquine

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Biden: It's "not the time to relax" COVID mitigation efforts — Tracking coronavirus variants through sewage.
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.
  6. World: Brazil's capital enters 24-hour lockdown as coronavirus cases surge.
44 mins ago - Axios on HBO

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond

On the next episode of "Axios on HBO," Axios co-founder Mike Allen interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond.

  • Catch the full interview and much more on Sunday, February 28 at 6 pm. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
2 hours ago - World

Italy tightens COVID restrictions as experts warn of growing prevalence of variants

Health workers prepare vaccine doses in Iseo, Italy. Photo: Stefano Nicoli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters.