Although the treatment protocol based on this drug has been widely adopted throughout the world since the appearance of covid-19, a disease that was previously unknown to scientists, a large fringe of scientists are now head-on opposed to the use of this drug to treat patients with coronavirus.
Never has the scientific community been so fragmented about this treatment made famous by French Professor Didier Raoult, at a time when a coordinated response is expected to eradicate this virus as quickly and effectively as possible.
The debate on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients has been brought back to the table in recent days when two studies, one French and one Chinese, concluded that this drug is supposedly not effective in treating coronavirus. And, the publication of the study conducted by Dr. Mandeep Mehra, in the scientific journal The Lancet, on Friday, has once again thrown a paving stone in the pond.
So much so that the World Health Organization announced on Monday the temporary suspension of clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine, following the publication of the study in the journal The Lancet and which represents the first study conducted on a broad spectrum of people, 15,000 patients.
Contacted by Hespress FR after this new twist in the case of the use of hydroxychloroquine, the virologist Moulay Mustapha Ennaji, director of the Virology Laboratory at the Hassan II University of Casablanca, considered that these data should be taken with great vigilance.
“From my point of view, there is a war between the lobbies on the political level, a war between the pharmaceutical companies, so there are interests” at stake, said the professor, referring to the cost of this treatment, within the reach of households.
No other alternative for the moment
“Neutrally, the officials in our country, the Scientific and Technical Advisory Commission on Acute Respiratory Illnesses, have adopted this protocol, and so far this protocol (which uses chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine with analogues, editor’s note) is working well for patients” Professor Ennaji said.
Comparing the detractors of the chloroquine-based treatment protocol to a “movement” that divides even in France, where the experiment with chloroquine was launched on patients affected by the coronavirus, the specialist said that “as far as we in Morocco are concerned, we must have a reading based on data. Today we have more than 4,500 cases that have been cured, so it is a treatment that is effective.
And to add that the number of cases that died from coronavirus is “negligible” compared to the number of cases cured. “In the last few days, we have a death rate between 0 and 1 per day. If we want to be objective, we shouldn’t change a winning team. “
The virologist believes that, in the absence of another treatment tested and approved by the WHO, which proves to be more effective than hydroxychloroquine, this treatment should not be stopped and patients should be allowed to die.
“We (Morocco) cannot contradict the WHO, which gives recommendations to member countries, and which works through the IHR (International Health Regulations, editor’s note), on the contrary, we need its recommendations, but we also need more details and above all an alternative”, in the event that it is necessary to stop administering the chloroquine protocol, he argues.
“Most countries are in the same situation and use this protocol,” Ennaji noted, explaining that this treatment is effective only at the beginning of the disease, in its stages 1 and 2, and has an action that stops the spread of the virus.
Once the virus spreads in the body, it becomes more difficult to treat it, he said, recalling that this is the hallmark of all virus treatments in general.
“Many molecules have been tested, but none have shown specific results for covid-19″, says the director of the Virology Laboratory at Hassan II University, referring to several antiviral drugs designed to treat other types of viruses.
In addition, he points out that in the United States, Remdesivir, from the American laboratory Gilead Sciences, had taken some time in the spotlight before it proved ineffective, having only modest efficiency. On May 18, American President Donald Trump publicly announced that he was taking hydrochloroquine as a preventive measure, reviving the craze for this treatment which, to date, has proved to be the only one that has proved its effectiveness in the treatment of coronavirus.
Didier Raoult protests
But that didn’t stop the division over this treatment protocol from getting bogged down, especially when a Chinese study published Friday found the molecule to be “ineffective” in treating coronavirus. But, “China had recommended this treatment in the beginning”. says Moulay Mustapha Ennaji.
The French infectiologist Didier Raoult, who democratized the use of this treatment at a time when the number of deaths and new coronavirus infections was out of control without any treatment, had nevertheless based himself on a Chinese study.
Moreover, Prof. Raoult, on Monday, rebelled in a video against the study which questions the effectiveness of the treatment he launched. “How do you expect a flawed study done with +big data+ to change what we have? “he wondered.
“Nothing will erase what I’ve seen with my own eyes.” he said. “Here (at the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection in Marseille), we have 4,000 people in our hands, you don’t think I’m going to change because there are people who do +big data+, which is a kind of completely delusional fantasy that takes data whose quality we don’t know, that mixes everything up, that mixes up treatments for which we don’t know the dose that is given,” he added.
The French professor, who has treated nearly 4,000 cases with the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (an antibiotic), claims “the lowest mortality in the world (…) at 0.5%”.
“I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine kills elsewhere, but here it has saved many people,” he said.