Nigeria: Covid-19 - Hydrochloroquine's Efficacy Claim Unproven, Says Guild of Medical Directors

29 July 2020

The Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) has called on Nigerians to disregard claims in a viral video that hydroxychloroquine, zinc and zithromax are effective in the treatment of COVID-19.

The viral video had showed a doctor, Stella Immanuela, who during a press briefing in Washington DC, said her hospital in Houston, Texas successfully treated 350 COVID-19 patients with hydrochloroquine, zinc and zithromax, and that the drug regime cures the disease.

But in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, the President, GMD, Prof. Olufemi Emmanuel Babalola said her claims were not scientifically proven and were her personal and unsubstantiated opinion, which must be taken with a pinch of salt.

He said: "We have watched with dismay the viral video of Dr. Immanuel, a doctor in the US. The video has been shared all over the country and led to many people justifiably asking the question: 'What do you think, doctor?

"The video was part of a news conference held in America. The event was hosted by the Tea Party Patriots. The organisation, America's Frontline Doctors, a group founded by Dr. Simone Gold, a board-certified physician and attorney, and made up of medical doctors, came together to address what the group calls a 'massive disinformation campaign' about the coronavirus. Dr. Immanuel was among the doctors who spoke.

"She strongly attests to treating over 350 patients in her clinic in Houston, Texas with the combination of hydrochloroquine, zinc and zithromax. However, people must understand that this is not scientific evidence and just her own personal, unsubstantiated claims."

He said medical research has subjected hydrochloroquine to intense research, adding that while some studies suggest that it was effective, others have come to the opposite conclusion.

"It is also true that Senegal, where hydrochloroquine is routinely used, has one of the lowest COVID-19 case fatality rates in the world at 0.64 per cent compared to 3.4 per cent in the US.

"As we speak, a study is underway in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on its efficacy and safety. Subsequently, a meta-analysis of all these studies should be undertaken to pool all the results and come up with a summative analysis, which will guide clinicians. Until then, all anecdotal claims such as the one from Dr. Immanuel must be taken with a pinch of salt. It should also be noted that hydrochloroquine may be a cause of serious complications and even death in some people," he added.

He said the Guild, which is a body of owners of private hospitals in Nigeria and collectively responsible for the management of about 70 per cent of the healthcare needs of Nigerians, has on its shoulders, a lot of the burden in explaining the problem as related to the video.

"Therefore, we feel it is pertinent to explain or clarify the issues for Nigerians. We must reiterate that the COVID-19 is real and an indiscriminate killer. We know from personal experience since it has killed many doctors and nurses all over the country, including our very own Professor Lovett Lawson.

"This disease is definitely not a joke and we strongly condemn the politicisation of the disease and the treatments currently being used to fight the pandemic. As at today, the whole world is still actively looking for an effective treatment and of course, a vaccine. Until then, everyone has a responsibility to remain safe and protect one another through the ways proven to help."

He called on Nigerians to continue the practice

of social distancing, mask wearing and use of frequent proper hand hygiene.

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