Disinfo: WHO impedes the use of cheap, accessible drugs that can effectively cure COVID-19

Summary

Dr. Didier Raoult, the famous French infectious disease specialist, creator and director of the Mediterranean University-Clinical Institute of Infectious Diseases, used chloroquine for treatment. The results of Dr. Raoult and his institute were outstanding: by the end of March, only 10 of the 2,400 people who received treatment at his institute had died. [—] For 80 years, chloroquine has been a cheap, common, safe generic. And only when it turned out that the medicine was priced at 4 cents, it was established that it couldn’t cure COVID-19 because it would potentially be too cheap and accessible. Another promising drug was remdesivir, an Ebola drug developed by Gilead Sciences. And what? On April 23rd, WHO “accidentally” posted on its website test results that showed that remdesivir was no good.

Disproof

This is part of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign around the coronavirus, and specifically its efforts to spread false or misleading health information related to COVID-19, its prevention, and its treatment. See similar false claims like that COVID-19 can be cured with saline solution, that treatment for COVID-19 will lead to forced vaccination, and that handwashing is useless for preventing the spread of the virus. False and misleading health claims are the most dangerous and irresponsible aspect of coronavirus-related disinformation, as they can have a direct impact on people’s health and even their lives. According to the World Health Organisation, “no pharmaceutical products have yet been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19.” In a statement, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We call on individuals and countries to refrain from using therapeutics that have not been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19. The history of medicine is strewn with examples of drugs that worked on paper, or in a test tube, but didn't work in humans or were actually harmful. We must follow the evidence. There are no short-cuts.” On 20 March, the WHO announced a major global trial called SOLIDARITY to test four potential treatments for COVID-19, including the malaria medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The SOLIDARITY trial will involve 45 countries and is designed to “dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work.” Chloroquine has recently garnered public attention after a small study of 36 COVID-19 patients in France demonstrated initially promising results; however, infectious disease experts have said the findings are not conclusive and require further study. Importantly, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can have serious side effects, especially at high doses or when combined with other medicines. They should not be used without a prescription and without medical supervision. Experts and health authorities, including the WHO and the European Medicine Agency, have also expressed concern that premature use of these drugs for COVID-19 may create dangerous shortages for patients who need them for other serious conditions, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The WHO advises against “unnecessary stockpiling and the creation of shortages of approved medicines that are required to treat other diseases”. See the WHO’s mythbusting page about false COVID-19 health advice for more information.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 195
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 30/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: France, US
  • Keywords: coronavirus
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Disproof

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Disproof

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Disproof

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