Calgary Herald - - PANDEMIC -

BRASILIA Brazil’s Health Min­istry is­sued new guide­lines Wed­nes­day for wider use of anti-malar­ial drugs for mild COVID-19 cases, a treat­ment touted by Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro in de­fi­ance of public health ex­perts warn­ing of pos­si­ble health risks.

In­terim Health Min­is­ter Ed­uardo Pazuello, an ac­tive duty army gen­eral, autho­rized the guide­lines after two trained doc­tors left the min­istry’s top job un­der pres­sure to pro­mote early use of chloro­quine and hy­drox­y­chloro­quine.

Med­i­cal ex­perts warn that stud­ies have not con­firmed the ef­fec­tive­ness of the drugs in treat­ing COVID-19, in­clud­ing Mar­cos Espinal, di­rec­tor for com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases at the Pan Amer­i­can Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Our rec­om­men­da­tions are crys­tal clear that they should not be used yet and in fact stud­ies are sug­gest­ing a higher rate of sec­ondary ef­fects and car­di­o­log­i­cal prob­lems in people who use it,” Espinal told jour­nal­ists in a Tues­day brief­ing.

Bol­sonaro has pushed the drugs’ po­ten­tial along with his ide­o­log­i­cal ally U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who said this week he was taking hy­drox­y­chloro­quine pre­ven­tively de­spite a warn­ing from the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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