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Iran Press TV

Canada warns against use of anti-malarial drugs as coronavirus treatment

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 26 April 2020 6:06 PM

Canada has warned against the use of a family of anti-malarial drugs to treat or prevent the new coronavirus, stressing that they can have fatal side effects.

"Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can have serious side effects. These drugs should be used only under the supervision of a physician," Canada's Public Health Agency announced on its website on Saturday.

"Health Canada is concerned that some people may be directly buying and using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19," it said, adding that they can cause "serious heart rhythm problems."

The novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in December.

The virus has so far infected over 2,965,711 people worldwide. More than 205,656 have died, according to a running count by worldometers.info.

The two anti-malarial drugs are constantly being touted as an effective cure for the coronavirus infection by US President Donald Trump.

Trump has appeared so adamant in his push to promote anti-malaria drugs as medication for the coronavirus infection that even the doctor heading the federal office tasked with battling the COVID-19 pandemic was fired last Wednesday for opposing his views.

Rick Bright said in statement that he was forced out over opposing broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which Trump has promoted as cure for the novel coronavirus.

He added that he was removed as the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) after he "resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections."

A new study, financed by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia, has found that the two drugs had no effects on the virus and instead, hydroxychloroquine was associated with more deaths among the patients.

The survey, based on data provided by the US Veterans Health Administration, found that about 28 percent of patients who were given hydroxychloroquine and usual care died of the disease while only 11 percent of those getting routine care lost their lives.

The European Medicines Agency, the European Union's drug regulator, also issued a similar warning on Thursday about the two drugs being prescribed in the United States and some other countries as treatments for the COVID-19, saying they have yet to demonstrate any medical benefits and, therefore, should not be used outside trials or national emergency use programs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said isolation measures to fight the coronavirus had to stay in place for the time being even as data showed the death toll had risen by less than 10 percent for the seventh day in a row.

"We all must do our part by following the recommendations of public health experts and staying at home. We will get through this together," the Canadian premier said in a statement to mark the national medical laboratory week.

The Public Health Agency said in a statement on Sunday that the total number of people killed by the coronavirus has climbed by under 6 percent to 2,489 in a day.

On Saturday, there were 2,350 deaths and 44,364 positive diagnoses.

The 5.9-percent increase in deaths on Sunday over Saturday was the lowest day-on-day rise seen in the last week since the toll jumped by 12 percent on April 19.

Some of Canada's 10 provinces have announced plans to gradually reopen their economies, in part by insisting on social distancing and protective equipment in workplaces.

Measures will differ as infection rates vary among provinces, but require national coordination, Trudeau said on Saturday.

Canada has so far reported 45,791 infections with 2,489 deaths.

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