The Ministry of Health will continue using anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), as part of its coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment protocol, according to Dr Mohamed Abdel Rahman, head of the central administration for preventive affairs.
The ministry’s move comes despite the World Health Organization (WHO) decision to temporarily halt the drug’s use in coronavirus treatment, due to concerns over its side effects.
Abdel Rahman told Daily News Egypt that the ministry’s committee of experts is following up on all updates related to the coronavirus and its treatments. He noted that the committee already knows of the drug’s potential side effects on some patients with heart and liver diseases.
He said that whilst HCQ is still part of Egypt’s Covid-19 treatment protocol, however, it is not given to all cases.
On Monday, the WHO temporarily halted a study using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as potential coronavirus treatments due to safety concerns, as part of the organisation’s Solidarity Trial in 35 countries.
The decision relied on a study published in The Lancet which suggested that coronavirus patients treated with the two drugs were at risk of arrhythmia, and were more likely to die.
Abdel Rahman said, “The committee has reviewed the paper and decided to continue using hydroxychloroquine in the protocol, as the study provided inaccurate results. Also, many European countries ignored the paper and are still using the drug.”
He called on citizens presenting with mild coronavirus symptoms to avoid hospitals to reduce infections, as long as their status remains mild and they only need follow ups during home isolation.
Meanwhile, over 100 researchers have sent an open letter to The Lancet’s editor and the paper’s authors, requesting the journal provide details on the data’s origin. They also called for the study to be independently validated by the WHO or another institution.