Fiocruz renounces chloroquine: “no specific treatment for Covid-19”

chloroquine Fiocruz institute has worked on testing and vaccines during the pandemic
The Fiocruz institute has worked on testing and vaccines during the pandemic. Photo: Itamar Crispim/Fiocruz

After hitting something of a brick wall in this week’s depositions of former and current Health Ministers, the Senate’s Covid inquiry is beginning to receive responses solicited from several agencies last week, which will help shape further testimonies and the committee’s final report. One such document came from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a research institute working under the federal government’s umbrella and responsible for manufacturing the AstraZeneca vaccine in Brazil. And the reply touched on one of the inquiry’s hot topics of this week: chloroquine. 

At the beginning of a 43-page report sent to the Senate’s hearings committee, the renowned institute states “there is no specific treatment for Covid-19.”

“Fiocruz produces chloroquine 150 mg tablets as part of the National Program for the Prevention and Control of Malaria for almost 20 years, with the recommendations for use described on the label and approved by [health regulator] Anvisa. In 2020, as was the case in previous years, our entire production of the drug was destined toward the program in question.”

Traditionally an antimalarial drug, President Jair Bolsonaro repeatedly touted chloroquine as a potential “miracle treatment” for Covid-19, despite a lack of any scientific evidence to this effect.

Fiocruz admitted that, in 2020, it received a request from the Health Ministry to produce 4 million chloroquine tablets. However, it added that the institute is “not developing any studies to expand the use of chloroquine and/or hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 patients,” and that Fiocruz does not intend to issue a request to change the drug’s label and include recommendations for treatment of the coronavirus.

Next week, the inquiry will hear Anvisa head Antônio Barra Torres, former government press secretary Fábio Wajngarten, former Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, and a representative of Pfizer in Brazil.