Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
French health experts have warned that the malaria treatment their government has authorised to be prescribed to fight coronavirus can lead to “cardiac toxicity” and leave users in intensive care.
The treatment named Plaquenil, also known as hydroxychloroquine, was first put forward as effective against by COVID-19 by Professor Didier Raoult, who initiated a project by pitting two groups of 12 coronavirus patients against each other in the tests.
The French government-backed the scientist, decreeing on 26th March: “Hydroxychloroquine and the combination lopinavir/ritonavir may be prescribed, dispensed and administered under the responsibility of a physician to patients suffering from COVID-19, in the health care institutions that care for them, and, for the continuation of their treatment if their condition so permits and with the authorisation of the initial prescriber, at home”.
However, the Agence Regionale de Sante (Regional Health Service ARS) in Nouvelle Aquitaine in south-western France, has warned about the side effects of the drug, with a press statement warning “ of the dangers of hydroxychloroquine, which should under no circumstances be taken for self-medication”.
The ARS reports that “cases of cardiac toxicity have been reported following self-medication with hydroxychloroquine in response to symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, sometimes necessitating hospitalization in intensive care units.”
Reports state hydroxychloroquine, which is currently being tested in many countries as a potential cure to COVID-19, can cause numerous side effects including cardiac and neurological disorders while an overdose can be dangerous, even fatal.
Professor Raoult has now said he used the drug for 80 COVID-19 patients and the results were promising.
On social media, he said: “New results from the IHU Mediterranee Infection: 80 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin combination.”
Reacting to the statement, Professor Francois Balloux of University College London said: “No, not ‘huge’ I’m afraid. This is an observational study (i.e. not controlled) following 80 patients with fairly mild symptoms.
“The majority of patients recover from #COVID19 infection, with or without #Hchloroquine and #Azithromycin treatment…”
The statements come after a couple, both in their 60s, reportedly listened to President Donald Trump praise both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine phosphate as a very promising treatment for COVID-19. The woman, who has not been identified, said she was familiar with the drug because she used it to treat her koi fish.
According to reports, the Arizona couple both self-medicated with chloroquine phosphate, a drug used to treat fish for parasites, in an effort to ward off the coronavirus. The man, who has not been named, reportedly died after taking the drug whilst the woman is hospitalised.
The French authorities are currently investigating “three suspicious deaths” of coronavirus who may have self medicated using chloroquine.
The ViralTab page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.