Experts say no to antimalarial drug to treat COVID-19

Experts say no to antimalarial drug to treat COVID-19

Friday, April 10, 2020

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JAMAICA will not be using the antimalarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, to treat persons who have contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19), says Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie.

She said that the decision was taken by the ministry following a recommendation from a committee of experts from across the island who are responsible for reviewing the technical material that is available on various treatments that are being tried internationally.

“We also utilise the guidance documents that are provided by the WHO (World Health Organization), who themselves have established expert panels to review the material that is available. As a result of our review, we have made a decision, and this is a decision that is supported by the WHO that we will not include hydroxychloroquine in our treatment protocols,” she said.

The CMO was responding to a question during a virtual press conference from Jamaica House on Wednesday as to Jamaica's position on the use of the drug.

In recent weeks, there have been raging debates globally about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating patients with COVID-19, after it was touted as a weapon in the fight against the pandemic.

There were allegations earlier this week that doctors in May Pen, Clarendon, were using the drug to treat people with the novel coronavirus. The health ministry had promised to investigate the matter.

In the meantime, Dr Bisasor McKenzie said that Jamaica was aware that ongoing studies were being done to look at the use of the drug in treating a certain set of patients.

“Jamaica has applied to be a part of the solidarity study, which is being coordinated from the WHO, and in that study, we may have persons who fit definite criteria, who would be recruited to have that treatment,” she said.

She noted that there are specific treatment and monitoring guidelines that would have to be strictly observed in using the drug.


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