Senegal says hydroxychloroquine virus treatment is promising

Scientific staff work in a secure laboratory, researching the coronavirus, at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar.

Scientific staff work in a secure laboratory, researching the coronavirus, at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar.

AFP/Seyllou

DAKAR - Senegal is set to continue administering hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus patients, a senior health official said, after encouraging results for those treated with the venerable anti-malarial drug.

Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are drugs ordinarily used to treat malaria, but early small-scale studies suggest they reduce virus levels among people badly infected by COVID-19. 

Some countries have rushed to use the drugs but many scientists are urging caution until larger trials show whether they are safe and effective.

READ: Use malaria drugs only for virus emergencies: EU agency

In a televised statement, Moussa Seydi, the doctor in charge of treating Senegalese COVID-19 patients, said there was anecdotal evidence that people treated with hydroxychloroquine recovered faster. 

"When it comes to science, observation alone is not enough and extensive research is needed before an opinion can be validated," he added, also urging people to avoid risky self-medication. 

"But the results we have seen reassure us and reassure my whole team, and we will continue in this direction."

READ: Malaria drugs being studied for COVID-19 treatment

Details about the trial in Senegal are scant. Seydi told AFP last week that about half of Senegal's COVID-19 patients were being treated with hydroxychloroquine. 

He did not offer any further details about dosage, the exact number under treatment, the age-range of the patients or whether they had any underlying medical conditions. 

Senegal has recorded 195 confirmed coronavirus cases to date, of whom one has died.

Source
AFP