USE OF UNPROVEN DRUGS WIDENED DESPITE WARNING
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.