This is the Brazilian carnival ‘queen’ who is now heading the country’s production of hydroxychloroquine – the drug promoted by Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19.
Renata Spallicci was the queen of the Barroca Zona Sul samba band at the carnival of Sao Paulo in the southeastern Brazilian state of the same name on 18th February.
Spallicci, who has represented Brazil at international bodybuilding competitions, and danced in front of thousands at carnival feared that she would soon not have much to do after everything started being cancelled.
But in her day job she is the Corporate Director at the pharmaceutical giant Apsen, and just as she learned that the carnival was over as the coronavirus pandemic began, she then learned that both Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro name-checked hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment.
Spallicci was then thrust into action as she leads the sale of the drug at Apsen, which she estimates provide 95 percent of all the hydroxychloroquine in Brazil.
She said that 100,000 chronic patients normally use the drug every month in Brazil, but with the spread of coronavirus the number of orders in one month overtook the predicted orders for the year.
Spallicci said “the increase went to infinity and beyond” as the drug started being used as a treatment for COVID-19 patients.
The carnival queen, nicknamed ‘Wonder Woman’ because of her impressive physique, said: “We had a huge amount of homework to do to structure a service with the Ministry of Health and the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA).
“We increased our stock and customer service as we were being bombarded with calls. Our concern was with chronic patients.”
The Ministry of Health has allowed hydroxychloroquine to be prescribed to COVID-19 patients who are hospitalised in a serious condition, in addition to those who already regularly use the medication.
Spallicci said that despite her history of bodybuilding she is taking no risks with the coronavirus, telling local media: “I’m constantly looking after myself. I have seen lots of athletes, like myself, without a history of illness, who were left debilitated by the virus.”
When asked if she would use the drug produced by her company if she contracted the disease she said the decision “would lie in the hands of her doctors”.
Spallicci is mainly working from home but does go to the office alone when needed. She lives with her boyfriend, two pet dogs, five cats and pet marmoset.
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