Brazilian doctor recommends caution about chloroquine

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – A Brazilian doctor appointed by the government to carry out a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment against Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which appeared in China last December, Wednesday urged caution on the results of the experiment, which he does not wait for several weeks.

The trial was launched on Monday by the Albert-Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, in collaboration with other Brazilian institutions. Chloroquine is tested there in combination with an antibiotic, azithromycin, on patients with Covid-19.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian government gave the green light to the use of chloroquine as a treatment, although its effectiveness has not yet been proven on a large scale.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as well as his American counterpart Donald Trump, present this antimalarial as a drug that can "change the game".

"It is still wishful thinking," said Dr. Luiz Vicente Rizzo in an interview. "In a few weeks, hopefully, we will be able to say, first if it works, and then for whom and under what conditions."

Some scientists in the United States have criticized the haste with which Donald Trump displayed his confidence in this treatment. Even if the American president has the "feeling" that chloroquine could be effective, Anthony Fauci, one of the doctors of the working group against the coronavirus set up in the White House, estimated that it was still necessary to await confirmation by new studies.

In France, hydroxychloroquine has obtained promising results during a study carried out on a reduced number of patients in Marseille under the leadership of Professor Didier Raoult, but its use is raising debate within the medical community.

The French Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, rejected on Tuesday the idea of ​​using hydroxychloroquine for the moment to treat patients affected by the coronavirus, except in very specific clinical cases.

Luiz Vicente Rizzo urges patience. "I hope it works. We will see," he said.

(Stephen Eisenhammer, French version Jean-Stéphane Brosse)