The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in the northern city of Manaus will begin tests with chloroquine on patients who have shown only mild Covid-19 symptoms. So far, only severe patients were getting the drug — used for decades to treat malaria and lupus. President Jair Bolsonaro has called the medicine a “possible cure” for the disease, but physician Marcus Lacerda, who leads the trials on mild patients in Manaus, calls for caution.
“We do research to tell whether a drug works or not. And chloroquine might not work. There is a great chance that we don’t find an antiviral against the coronavirus — it is hard to do so against respiratory viruses. Researchers can’t skew the data in order to prove something no matter what, turning a blind eye to negative results if [the drug] doesn’t work,” he said.
Mr. Lacerda says trials could last for at least three months before conclusive results. Other hospitals in São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul are also beginning to administer chloroquine to mild patients.A small study by Chinese doctors showed positive results, The New York Times reports.
“Cough, fever, and pneumonia went away faster, and the disease seemed less likely to turn severe in people who received hydroxychloroquine than in a comparison group not given the drug. The authors of the report said that the medication was promising, but that more research was needed to clarify how it might work in treating coronavirus disease and to determine the best way to use it,” wrote the newspaper.