WHO resumes chloroquine trials for Covid-19 use

WHO resumes chloroquine trials for Covid-19 use
Image: Z1HAM

The World Health Organization is resuming Covid-19 trials using antimalarial drug chloroquine, just one week and a half after suspending them following safety concerns raised by an article published in medical journal Lancet. “The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of Solidarity trials including [those using] chloroquine,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The scientific publication that based the decision is under scrutiny after The Guardian found out that much of the data was provided by Surgisphere, a U.S. company whose  “employees have little or no data or scientific background.” The Australian edition of the newspaper also found inconsistencies in the data country used in the study. 

The inconsistencies with the Lancet study are a textbook example of issues with preprint papers — that is, posting studies on online repositories of academic articles before they are peer-reviewed. Scientists have made that call due to the pressing need for reliable information to be available in an environment where disinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus have sprouted. 

Chloroquine in Brazil

In Brazil, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation is responsible for chloroquine tests under WHO’s Solidarity initiative, which tries to find an effective drug to fight Covid-19. Supported by President Jair Bolsonaro as a “possible cure” for Covid-19, the drug became a political issue in Brazil, with scientists working on trials being subject to threats.

The Workers’ Party asked the Federal Accounts Court to scrutinize Brazil’s chloroquine protocols. The court gave the Health Ministry 10 days to disclose all information on which scientific data allowed the government to recommend the use of the drug for mild Covid-19 patients, and for technical opinions from sanitary watchdogs.

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