Medical experts have dismissed claims that chloroquine cures Covid-19.
The experts were responding to a video clip that has gone viral on social media in which a United States of America (USA)-based Cameroonian doctor Stella Immanuel claims that chloroquine cures the disease.
Immanuel says she has treated over 350 Covid-19 patients of different ages and conditions with hydroxy-chloroquine along with zinc and Zithromax, and none of them has died or been put on oxygen.
However, her claims are contrary to the extensive tests that have been done regarding the drug.
Dr Martin Mwaiponya, a Malawian cardiologist based in the United Kingdom (UK), dismissed the claim, arguing chloroquine studies in the UK and Brazil were discontinued because the drug lacked promise as a cure or prevention for Covid-19.
“Among patients hospitalised with mild-to-moderate Covid-19, the use of hydroxy-chloroquine alone or with azithromycin, did not improve clinical status in 15 days as compared with standard care,” he said.
Mwaiponya said studies in Brazil on the drug’s efficacy towards Covid-19 were also curtailed due to adverse effects the drug was having on the heart.
He said: “It’s only French researchers who are still pursuing the hydroxy-chloroquine trial. The drug has not shown to be effective or safe in the treatment of Covid-19. It should, therefore, not be used routinely as treatment unless in a clinical trial setting.”
He suggested the need for rigorous randomised trials to ascertain Immanuel’s claims.
On his part, Dr Adamson Muula, professor of public health and epidemiology at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, also dismissed claims that chloroquine cures coronavirus.
He said: “Currently, there is no evidence that hydroxy-chloroquine will achieve what the doctor says is capable of achieving. That evidence does not exist. So, it will be grossly inappropriate for a health worker to be promoting unproven medicines.
“The situation may change, though, as more evidence is gathered. So we will keep our eyes and ears open.”
Dr Amir Khan, a medical doctor and lecturer at University of Leeds School of Medicine and University of Bradford in the UK also warned against the use of hydroxy-chloroquine, claiming it has fatal side effects.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said “there is currently no proof” that hydroxychloroquine is a treatment or a preventative measure against Covid-19.
The WHO said: “The misuse of hydroxy-chloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death.”
Hydroxy-chloroquine is a drug commonly used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and normally a patient is put on the drug following advice from a medical specialist.
Immanuel’s video clip went viral after US President Donald Trump re-tweeted it.
Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have been touting the unproven malarial drug as a treatment for corona virus after testing positive for Covid-19.
“I trust hydroxy-chloroquine,” said Bolsonaro in a video clip he shared of himself. “And you?”
On social media, some people wondered why people in India, Pakistan and Brazil are still dying despite taking the drug.
They alleged that Immanuel has an agenda beyond Covid-19 and the hydroxy-chloroquine she is promoting.
Malawi, as many other countries globally, continues to experience a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
The country, as of yesterday, had registered 3 858 cases of coronavirus, 107 deaths and 1 760 recoveries.