In the past two months, researchers around the world have tested various drugs in clinical trials for the treatment of the coronavirus infection such as the anti-malarial medicines hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
Previously, scientists had high expectations from both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine which is why there were several trials on the medicines in the US as well as other countries.
The hopes for the anti-malarial drugs arose after a small-scale study based in France reported positive effects of hydroxychloroquine in patients with the coronavirus infection.
However, other, larger clinical trials did not find any benefits of using the drugs in coronavirus treatment.
Instead, the researchers noted that the current standard treatment for coronavirus had better outcomes in comparison with treatment with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which is a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
Additionally, it was also noted that patients who were given a high dosage of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine developed heart-related issues such as arrhythmia which is having an irregular heartbeat.
After researchers reported the negative consequences of using anti-malarial drugs, many of the clinical trials were called off to avoid further complications as well as further as to clarify that the drugs should not be used by people for COVID-19.
Following the reports of adverse effects of hydroxychloroquine, health authorities including the World Health Organization immediately issued warnings against the use of the drug for the treatment of coronavirus as many people were seen to use it.
This happened due to the endorsement of the drug by a number of government officials such as the president of the US, Donald Trump, who later received backlash from the medical community for promoting hydroxychloroquine despite the lack of solid evidence for its benefits.
More recently, President Trump has also stated that he had been using hydroxychloroquine in order to ‘prevent’ coronavirus infection in a statement from last week.
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Regardless of the constant warnings from the researchers around the world, Trump has continued to promote the anti-malarial drugs, which can pose a challenge to doctors treating coronavirus patients at the front line as patients may start asking for coronavirus treatment involving hydroxychloroquine.
On the other hand, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has also followed Trump and promoted the use of the drug for the treatment of COVID-19 even though the country had previously called off the trial testing hydroxychloroquine due to the development of heart-related issues.
Now, the health ministry of Brazil has stated that it would continue to suggest using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating coronavirus infection regardless of WHO’s advice against its usage.
One of the country health ministry officials, Mayra Pinheiro, stated that it is better to remain calm and continue the previous guidelines issues for coronavirus treatment in Brazil.
The instructions from Brazil’s health ministry recommends doctors to prescribe chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment in the early stages of the disease.
These guidelines were added after the former health minister of the country, Nelson Teich, reportedly resigned after the president Bolsonaro continued to endorse hydroxychloroquine against his advice.
Tecih was the second minister of health appointed in less than a month’s time in Brazil. With his resignation, health experts now worry that the situation may get even worse in the country.
Till now, Brazil is the worst-hit country in Latin America with the second-highest number of cases after the US in the world. Statistically, the number of cases has reached around 357,000 with a death toll of twenty-three thousand deaths.
It is also said that the real figures of cases and deaths may be even higher since there is a lack of testing. However, the health ministry of Brazil has announced that it will continue to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment.