Brazil recommends chloroquine to treat even mild COVID-19 cases
Brasília: Brazil’s health ministry recommended Wednesday using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat even mild cases of COVID-19, a treatment President Jair Bolsonaro has pushed for despite a lack of conclusive evidence of their effectiveness.
New federal guidelines released by the ministry recommend doctors prescribe the anti-malarial drugs from the onset of symptoms of coronavirus infection, together with the antibiotic azithromycin.
Patients will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging they have been informed of potential side effects, including heart and liver problems and retina damage. The two medications have been swept up in a politically charged debate amid the pandemic.
Bolsonaro and his US counterpart Donald Trump, to whom he is often compared, tout them as potential wonder drugs against COVID-19.
Trump even revealed Monday he has been taking hydroxychloroquine daily as a preventive measure.
But some studies have cast doubt on the drugs’ effectiveness and safety against coronavirus.
The health ministry acknowledged that “there are still no meta-analyses of randomized, controlled, blind, large-scale clinical trials of these medications in the treatment of COVID-19.”
However, it said the government had a responsibility to issue guidelines using the information currently available. Preliminary studies of the drugs in China and France showed promising results against COVID-19. However, other studies have cast doubt on their effectiveness and raised concerns about the potential for heart, liver and kidney problems, as well as nerve damage. – AFP