Politics of covid-19 treatment: Scientists at war over study that discredits hydroxychloroquine

London, May 31, 2020 (AltAfrica)-More than 100 scientists have raised concerns over a influential study of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine that led the World Health Organisation to suspend clinical trials to determine if the drugs could be an effective treatment for Covid-19.

The World Health Organisation has suspended clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine in several countries. AP – John LocherPublished last week in The Lancet, the large-scale study suggested the malaria drugs could be dangerous to people with severe cases of Covid-19, increasing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms and even death.


Now, scientists across the world are asking the research team, led by Harvard professor Dr Mandeep Mehra, to release its data for further analysis and independent academic review.

In an open letter, they’ve asked the journal to provide details about the massive hospital database – consisting of 96,000 Covid-19 patients across six continents – which was the basis for the observational study.

So far the authors have declined to release their underlying data, which scientists worry carries several inconsistencies. 

Among them are concerns the average daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, which is cheap and easy to administer, used were higher than the recommended amounts – and that data from Australian patients does not match data from the Australian government. 

Hydroxychloroquine tests around the world were slowed amid concerns over the drug’s safety in coronavirus patients. Now Scientists are at war over study that discredits hydroxychloroquine. John Moore/Getty Images/AFPThe French government last week revoked a decree authorising hospitals to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 patients after France’s public health watchdog warned against its use.

The move came days after the WHO said safety concerns had prompted it to suspend use of the drug in a global trial.

Many African countries are defying a warning from the World Health Organization on the safety of the anti-Malarial drug for treatment of Covid-19 patients

The director of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac), Mojisola Adeyeye said in a media interview that she does not dispute WHO’s conclusions but they want to generate their own data.

She was quoted as saying that “I do not know the data that they’re looking at, whether it’s from the Caucasian population or from the African population.

If the data they’re looking at and the reason for suspending the trials is from Caucasian population, then it may be justified. But I don’t think we have data from the African population yet, because our genetic make up is different.”

Senegal has also announced that it will continue treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine.

Abdoulaye Bousso, who heads Senegal’s Centre for Health Emergency Operations, told AFP on Wednesday that the country’s hydroxychloroquine treatment programme would nonetheless continue, without offering further detail

US president Donald Trump has endorsed the use of hydroxychloroquine and says he has been taken the medication prophylactically – despite confusion over whether or not it works against the coronavirus

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