Brazilian government elects nitazoxanide as a “new chloroquine”

brazil nitazoxanide
Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes touts nitazoxanide. Photo Alan Santos/PR

Brazil’s Science and Technology Ministry claimed on Monday that nitazoxanide, a drug for treating worms, is effective against Covid-19 when used in the early stages of the disease. But the disclosure of these findings has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Government officials presented a slide with the title “Scientifically proven: [nitazoxanide] reduces viral load,” alongside a decreasing bar chart. 

However, journalists found that the graph was taken from online image bank Shutterstock, originally entitled “Beautiful 3D animation of a downward bar chart following the arrow trading on the stock exchange.”

The discovery led critics to doubt the reliability of the study and compare nitazoxanide to hydroxychloroquine — an antimalarial drug with no proven effect against the coronavirus, but touted by President Jair Bolsonaro as a “possible cure” against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Patrícia Rocco, the study’s coordinator, said that the drug “caused a significant reduction in viral load” when compared to a placebo.

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