Bolsonaro reiterates use of chloroquine to fight COVID-19

He once again argued for the isolation of high-risk group people only

Published in 13/05/2020 - 14:51 By Andreia Verdélio - Brasília

President Jair Bolsonaro said today (May 13) he will talk to Health Minister Nelson Teich with a view to including the use of chloroquine and its derivative hydroxychloroquine as part of the care protocol in Brazil’s public hospitals for patients with light symptoms of COVID-19.

“After listening to doctors, I came to understand that is should be used from the beginning by those making up the higher risk group. [In the case of] people with underlying conditions or the elderly, hydroxychloroquine should be used,” Bolsonaro said while leaving the presidential residence.

“[The patient’s cure] may or may not work,” the president said, adding that chloroquine should be used for as long as there is no efficient drug against COVID-19. “Even though they know there is no scientific confirmation of its effectiveness, since it’s an emergency, chloroquine, which has always been in use since 1955, now with azithromycin, may come as respite for this huge amount of deaths we’re facing in Brazil,” he said.

Originally, the drug was recommended to treat such diseases as malaria, lupus, and arthritis, but it has been used and studied in association with other drugs for COVID-19.

In Brazil, the Health Ministry suggested the use of chloroquine on hospitalized patients with medium or high degree of severity, retaining the current medical rule according to which doctors should make the decision on prescribing the substance or not.

Brazil’s Federal Medicine Council (CFM) does not recommend the use of the drug, but authorized the prescription in specific situations, including light cases, at the doctor’s discretion and in a decision made jointly with the patient.

“It’s been widely used in Brazil, but not in public hospitals, where doctors may be held accountable for not sticking to the protocol, which says it’s used only in serious cases,” the president argued.

Research

On his Twitter account, Health Minister Nelson Teich wrote Tuesday (May 12) that chloroquine is a medication with side effects. “Any prescription should be made after medical assessment. Patients must understand the risks and sign a term consenting to use chloroquine,” he cautioned.

The ministry, he added, has kept track of domestic and international studies on the treatment against the new coronavirus, which, in addition to chloroquine, consider 10 drugs. “We also want to be prepared for the discovery of a new vaccine against the disease. We’re constantly talking to researchers and laboratory to guarantee the offer of this protection for Brazilians,” he pointed out.

After Teich’s statement, President Bolsoanro said all ministers must be “in line” with Teich. “These are all political guidelines from me. And when I talk to ministers, I want effectiveness as the end result. It’s not about me liking Minister Teich or not. It’s what taking place right now. We’re facing hundreds of deaths every day. If we can lower this number by using chloroquine, why not?” he questioned.

The president also pledged to talk to Teich about official recommendations on horizontal isolation—social distancing for everyone, regardless of whether they belong to high-risk groups—as a measure to combat COVID-19. “In my opinion, it should be vertical since the beginning, taking care of high-risk people and sending people to work,” Bolsonaro said.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Denise Griesinger / Nira Foster

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