Algeria To Continue Using Hydroxychloroquine Against Coronavirus Despite WHO Ban
Algeria will continue to use anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine against the novel coronavirus despite the World Health Organization (WHO) suspending clinical trials of such treatments, a member of its scientific committee said, reported Africa News.
“We’ve treated thousands of cases with this medicine, very successfully so far,” said Mohamed Bekkat, a member of the scientific committee on Algeria’s COVID-19 outbreak. “We haven’t noted any undesirable reactions.”
On Monday, the WHO stopped testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus after medical journal The Lancet published a study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients that showed no benefit in those treated with the drug, which is normally used against arthritis.
The study found that administering the medicine or, separately, the related anti-malarial chloroquine, actually increased COVID-19 patients’ risk of dying. The study result showed that those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine alone, 18% and 16.4% respectively had died, compared with 9% in the control group. The study researchers warned that hydroxychloroquine should not be used outside of clinical trials.
Bekkat, who is also head of the Order of Algerian Doctors, said Algeria had not registered any deaths caused by hydroxychloroquine. In late March, the health authorities decided to treat patients infected with the COVID-19 illness with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic.
Dr. Djamel Fourar, spokesman for the Algerian Scientific Committee monitoring the evolution of the pandemic, said thousands of contaminated Algerians have received treatment based on hydroxychloroquine since the coronavirus outbreak began in the country in March.
Bekkat argued that there is likely some confusion regarding the Lancet study that seems to concern only serious cases in which hydroxychloroquine is of no help.
“There is evidence that the use of chloroquine by Arab and African countries has proven to be effective when used early,” he explained.
Algeria has officially reported a total of 8,503 cases and 609 deaths so far.