Fauci says it’s too soon to call malaria medicine “knockout drug” against COVID-19

Fauci says it's too soon to call malaria medicine
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 26, 2020, medical staff shows o at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille, packets of a Nivaquine, tablets containing chloroquine and Plaqueril, tablets containing hydroxychloroquine, drugs that has shown signs of effectiveness against coronavirus. - On March 29, 2020,a limited emergency-use authorization for two antimalarial drugs touted as game-changers by President Donald Trump has been issued by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus patients. In a statement published Sunday, the US Department of Health and Human Services detailed recent donations of medicine to a national stockpile -- including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, both being investigated as potential COVID-19 treatments.

US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19.

This is despite some early data out of Wuhan, China, suggesting that it could “significantly” shorten the time it takes for Covid-19 patients to recover from illness.

That early data is not “very robust,” Fauci said on “Fox & Friends.”

“Granted that there is a suggestion that there is a benefit there, I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” Fauci said.

“We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention — not just this one — any intervention is truly safe and effective.

He added: “But when you don’t have that information it’s understandable, and I grant that, it’s understandable why people may want to take something anyway even with the slightest hint of it being effective and I have no problem with that.”

Meanwhile, Cameroon has seized fake chloroquine from at least 300 pharmacies and hospitals as people rush to obtain the anti-malaria drug in the unproven belief it can stop the coronavirus.

Anatole Lobe, manager of Saint Martins Health Care, a private hospital in Yaounde, says he now buys chloroquine only from officially recognized and trusted pharmacies, since the government announced that a counterfeit product had been found in hospitals and pharmacies throughout the country.

Rose Abondo Ngono Mballa, director general of Cameroon’s National Drug Quality Control and Valuation Laboratory, says the fake drugs are hurting patients trying to recover from malaria.

Cameroon was notified March 9 by the World Health Organization of the circulation of counterfeit anti-malaria drugs in its territory and in neighboring Chad and Nigeria, Mballa says.

Since then, hundreds of doctors and nurses from pharmacies and hospitals in Cameroon have complained that their patients were not responding to anti-malaria treatment and that they doubted the quality of chloroquine supplied to hospitals and pharmacies.

Mballa says her laboratory discovered that most of what was sold as chloroquine was a mixture of chalk and water.

The rush for chloroquine began after French researchers announced that half of 14 coronavirus patients who underwent therapy with the anti-malaria drug got better, and U.S President Donald Trump referred to it as a potential cure for the raging virus.

Other researchers say much more testing is needed to make sure the drug is effective and safe to use.

Report by CNN and VOA

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