The Brazilian National Justice Council (CNJ), presided by Supreme Court Chief Justice Dias Toffoli, urged judges not to authorize the administration of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Covid-19 patients. In a technical release published earlier this week, the council argued that “scientific evidence does not support its use against Covid-19, neither in its mildest cases nor in most severe patients.”
This recommendation could enhance the tensions between the judicial branch and President Jair Bolsonaro, who has publicly supported the use of this medicine on multiple occasions. Brazil’s Health Ministry has declared the drug should be used only in severe patients. Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, however, said doctors have the right to prescribe hydroxychloroquine — but shall be held responsible for any adverse consequences. Multiple countries have recorded cases of hydroxychloroquine poisoning.
Last week, several facilities in Brazil began testing with chloroquine on patients who have shown only mild Covid-19 symptoms. 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.