Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
The French doctor who made global headlines after claiming to have found a cure for the coronavirus has been labelled a “mad man” by President Emmanuel Macron’s advisers.
The incident came shortly before Professor Didier Raoult announced that he was leaving France’s COVID-19 scientific council as “the council does not correspond to what I feel is a strategic advisory role”.
The series of events began when Raoult announced on 18th March that he had carried out clinical tests using malaria treatment Plaquenil (Chloroquine) to treat COVID-19 and found the results to be “exceptional”.
Raoult confirmed that the test had been carried out on 24 patients.
Reacting to the news, the French Ministry of Health, Olivier Veran, said: “It will be extended but in another hospital, with a team independent from that of professor Raoult in order to scientifically ensure that it works for a much larger number of patients because 24 patients is a fairly low number.”
Since then, reports say Raoult has been putting pressure on the government to approve the broad prescription of the medicine which has proved controversial in the scientific world.
Raoult is even said to have opened the doors of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Mediterranee Infection, in Marseille, to offer tests to everyone.
Reports state that since then, hundreds of people have been going to Raoult’s institute hoping to find a cure for the coronavirus.
However, experts have slammed the professor, with Karine Lacombe, Head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris, expressing her outrage: “Using a drug like this, without a marketing authorisation, exposing people who take it to complications, (…) I think it’s outside of any ethical approach.”
A source close to President Macron was reported as saying: “Imagine if we had 2,000 to 3,000 deaths because this drug is not supported? There’s a clinical protocol that has to be followed.”
A government councillor agreed: “This is crazy. Raoult, in people’s eyes, is the Jesus Christ of the 21st century. If you marginalise him, it will be as if you are trying to shut him up”.
According to numerous reports in French media, people close to Macron have called Raoult a “mad man” (‘fou furieux’ in French).
The Minister of Health Olivier Veran thinks that Raoult “is a controversial scientist, who told us a few weeks ago that we were crazy to get excited about coronavirus, but he’s also known as an absolutely brilliant researcher.”
Veran assured that he remained in contact with Raoult despite his withdrawal from the council and that he had in fact authorised chloroquine tests in several French establishments. The first results should arrive in two to three weeks.
The minister says that “Raoult’s studies are obviously being taken seriously”, but is anxious above all to respect the rules to “ensure the health and safety of the French people”.
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