SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic.- The Presidents of the United States, Donald Trump; Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, and Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, have in common the application of policies that in the coronavirus field also unite them around hydroxychloroquine, or chloroquine, an antimalarial drug that a scientific study released today associates with an increased risk of death.
The study was published in the scientific journal The Lancet and was the result of monitoring 96,000 patients sick with COVID-19, which has unleashed the pandemic that has the planet in check.
The study showed that people infected with the coronavirus and treated with this approved malaria medicine had a higher risk of death compared to patients who did not ingest this medicine.
READ HERE the Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine study with or without macrolide for the treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis
The summary reads a compelling statement: “This multinational, observational, real-world study of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization found that use of a regimen containing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine (with or without a macrolide) was not associated with evidence of benefit ».
Rather, he notes, this use is “associated with an increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias and an increased risk of hospital death with COVID-19. These findings suggest that these drug regimens should not be used outside of clinical trials and urgent confirmation from randomized clinical trials is needed. “
On the affinity for this same medicine, the journalists of the EFE Agency in Brazil, Antonio Torres del Cerro and Sabela Bello, date this Friday an office in Brasilia / Caracas that highlights that Jair Bolsonaro and Nicolás Maduro, leaders of opposing ideological currents and publicly antagonized, They share much more than meets the eye.
In addition to the pleasure of having military personnel in their respective governments, both defend a controversial drug against COVID-19: chloroquine.
Along with Donald Trump, who has taken it preventively in recent weeks, the leaders of Brazil and Venezuela are among the few world leaders to promote this drug, an antimalarial drug that can have serious side effects and whose effectiveness against the coronavirus is not proven.
The US president, very critical of the management of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced Thursday that he will stop taking chloroquine in two days, although he did not explain whether he will do so by prescription or by his own decision.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of chloroquine in patients with coronavirus, although only on prescription because it could cause serious heart problems.
CHLOROQUINE IN BRAZIL
Bolsonaro, 65, has been especially emphatic in promoting his prescription since the start of the pandemic in Brazil, despite the problems it has caused him. Its two last ministers of health left due to disagreements over the general administration of the drug.
“There is still no scientific proof, but it is being used in Brazil and in the rest of the world. We are at war, ”the president defended in a tweet.
The Brazilian states and municipalities, who have competences in Health, also play a key role in its implementation. In any case, for its administration, the authorization of the patient or the family is required, according to the relaxation decree sponsored by Bolsonaro.
However, three of the main Brazilian medical associations, the Intensive Medicine Association, the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases and the Brazilian Society of Pneumology, have discouraged its use.
THE CHLOROQUINE IN VENEZUELA
For his part, Maduro, although not as emphatic as his Brazilian counterpart in the use of chloroquine, gave an order to use it in all states to treat those infected by COVID-19, since the first cases were known in the month. of March.
The first 77 infected people were medicated with the antimalarial drug, as explained by the Minister of Communications, Jorge Rodríguez, who assured, in addition, that chloroquine would also be administered to the “close contacts” of each patient and to the health personnel who treat people with COVID-19.
“For the chloroquine that we are going to use, we have sufficient treatment to care for 115,000 patients who may have an infection. We will never reach that level because the quarantine in Venezuela is working, but we are able to attend to that number of patients, “said Rodríguez.
Although there were no discordant voices within the Executive, there were many specialists who questioned the efficacy of the drug against COVID-19, as well as the country’s ability to supply chloroquine to the number of affected people indicated by Rodríguez, since the shortage of medicines in Venezuela is common.
CHLOROQUINE VS MINISTERS OF HEALTH
Overwhelmed by the growth of cases (300,000) and deaths (around 20,000) by COVID-19 in Brazil, Bolsonaro considers chloroquine a good way to end the quarantines decreed by the majority of local and regional governments, which he accuses of harm the economy and income of the most vulnerable.
His insistence on administering it contributed to the departure of his two last Health Ministers, Luiz Henrique Mandetta and Nelson Teich, who were opposed to generalizing the use of chloroquine and abandoned the ship in the midst of a pandemic, the first in April and the second in May. .
Bolsonaro, who has minimized the impact of COVID-19, temporarily has General Eduardo Pazuello as Health Minister.
Pazuello, inexperienced in the health area, is in tune with the president – a former captain in the reserve – and signed this week the protocol that makes the use of chloroquine, used until now against lupus and malaria, more flexible.
To circumvent the different government crises of the past two months – the march of his ministers of Health, Justice and investigations against him – the head of state of Brazil has increasingly surrounded himself with the military. Today they control 9 of the 22 ministries.
Bolsonaro has acted precisely on the Army for the manufacture of chloroquine. Its Pharmaceutical Chemical Laboratory had increased the production of this substance until mid-April to 1.25 million tablets.
The Brazilian government also eliminated import taxes on chloroquine drugs and asked India, one of the world’s leading suppliers of generic drugs, for a shipment of raw materials for its manufacture in Brazil.
However, Maduro has not faced this problem, since his Executive agrees and obeys any suggestion and order from the president.
The Presidential Commission for the Control and Prevention of Covid-19, headed by Executive Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and the Minister of Health, Carlos Alvarado González, follows to the letter what the President orders.
MATURE, CHLOROQUINE, INTERFERON AND OTHER HERBS
But Maduro, similar to Bolsonaro also in the taste for surrounding himself with the military in his cabinet, goes beyond chloroquine among the supposed remedies against the new coronavirus: the Cuban Interferon and an infusion of herbs and plants that, according to the president himself, published on his Twitter account, it is the magic remedy for numerous diseases, including COVID-19.
The recipe, defended by the president and endorsed by the Chavista and alleged “doctor” Sirio Quintero, received great criticism and was immediately erased by the social network itself, as it was considered misleading and without scientific evidence.
Quintero, whose true resume is unknown when his own versions of statements vary from one another, said, in an article published in December 2012, that he had cured cancer of the then President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, who died three months later cause of the disease.
And also, Cuban Interferon occupies a relevant place in Maduro’s list of remedies.
Despite the fact that on March 23, Minister Rodríguez assured that the 77 contagious people in the country were being treated with chloroquine, just four days later – on the 27th – President Nicolás Maduro assured that “29% of patients with COVID -19 in Venezuela have recovered with fundamental use of Interferón ».
The variability of the official declarations regarding the cases registered in Venezuela, the information on the use of the different treatments and the absence of documentation that supports the messages of the Executive generate mistrust and uncertainty among the population, which faces daily, in addition , to the usual difficulties typical of the country.
According to official data, to date, Venezuela has 882 infected -50% diagnosed in the last week- and only 10 deaths, which places the Caribbean country among the least affected by the pandemic, despite the escalation of recent days.
And meanwhile, Bolsonaro and Maduro continue their management of the health crisis on their own, without scientific endorsement and without evidence to support the use of chloroquine and other remedies to combat COVID-19.