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Medical staff shows on February 26, at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille, a packet of Plaqueril, tablets containing hydroxychloroquine. Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Preliminary results of the first large-scale study of hydroxychloroquine suggest that the drug “didn’t really have much of an effect on the recovery rate,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during CNN’s town hall Thursday evening.

“I think from the review that I heard basically it was not seen as a positive, not seen as a negative,” Cuomo said.

The study, sponsored by the New York state Department of Health, looked at about 600 patients at 22 hospitals in the greater New York City area.  

Those who took hydroxychloroquine, with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, were no more likely to survive their infections than those who did not, according to David Holtgrave, dean of the University at Albany School of Public Health, who conducted the study.  

“We don’t see a statistically significant difference between patients who took the drugs and those who did not,” he said. 

Some more background: Since hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are both already on the market for other illnesses, doctors are free to prescribe them to coronavirus patients if they want to, and the Albany study found that doctors did often use them to treat their coronavirus patients. 

Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious disease expert who was not involved in the Albany report, said while it’s hardly the last word on the issue, he hopes it will guide doctors who are considering prescribing it to their hospitalized patients.  

“This study is not a red light. It’s a yellow caution light,” he said.  

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