WHO decided to halt trials on malaria medication chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment following a study associating the risk of death to its use.
WHO decided on May 25 to temporarily suspend chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine studies, prompting conflicting opinions worldwide.
“Opinions differ, but the bottom line is that chloroquine is involved in viral inactivation [of the virus],” the Moroccan Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb told L’Economiste today.
Ait Taleb indicated that 4,841 COVID-19 patients out of the 7,584 cases recorded in Morocco, as of today at 10 a.m., have recovered from the virus after following the chloroquine treatment.
Moroccan health authorities started securing a sufficient stock of the chloroquine-based drugs in mid-March, a few weeks after the declaration of the first COVID-19 case in the country.
The decision followed consultations with the technical and scientific committee of the national program for the prevention and control of influenza and acute respiratory infections.
The health ministry initiated chloroquine therapy on April 8, along with complementary medicines.
Ait Taleb explained that the novel coronavirus infects the host by entering the cell in several stages, and that chloroquine intervenes in one of these stages to curb its propagation.
WHO’s decision to suspend the use of the medication followed a study that scientific magazine “The Lancet” published on May 22, associating the risk of death with the use of chloroquine.
The head of WHO said that the concern is only related to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19, adding that the drugs were accepted treatments for people with malaria and auto-immune diseases.
In France, following WHO’s announcement, the High Council for Public Health (HCSP) recommended in a May 26 notice not to use hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, outside clinical trials, whether alone or in combination with an antibiotic.
The WHO and HCSP decisions created controversy in the European country, as French Professor Didier Raoult, who first promoted the drug as an effective COVID-19 treatment, described ‘The Lancet’ study as “delusional fantasy.”
“I’m not going to change my mind because there is a messy study done with Big data that tells something else, regardless of the newspaper in which it goes,” said Raoult.
Raoult was the first to draw the world’s attention to the danger of COVID-19, by publishing a video on January 21, saying that “there are three Chinese people dying and it makes a global alert.”
A month later, the French professor recommended the use of chloroquine as the cheapest treatment for COVID-19.