Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced this Saturday that he ordered the Army Laboratory to increase its production of chloroquine, a medicine used to treat malaria, arthritis and lupus, given the possibility that it may be effective in treating the coronavirus.
The far-right leader added that the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo has already started clinical trials to determine the efficacy of chloroquine in treating patients with COVID-19.
The use of this medicine to treat COVID-19 is in the experimental phase, but studies already published in scientific journals in the United States, China and France assure that the results can be promising.
Without waiting for the results of such tests and without scientific evidence that chloroquine serves to alleviate the health problems caused by the coronavirus, Bolsonaro ordered that Brazil increase its manufacture.
“I met with the Defense Minister (General Fernando Azevedo e Silva) and we decided that the Army’s chemical and pharmaceutical laboratory should immediately expand the production of that medicine,” the head of state announced in a video he published on his social networks.
In the same video, which he titled “the possible cure for patients with COVID-19,” the president added that he received the information that the technicians at the Albert Einstein Hospital started a research protocol to evaluate the medicine’s efficacy.
The disclosure that chloroquine can be effective against the coronavirus caused Brazilians to run to pharmacies to buy the medicine, which forced the Ministry of Health to limit its sale to patients who present a prescription because those who need it are facing difficulties to obtain it.
In addition to restricting sales in Brazil, the National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (Anvisa) prohibited its export.
The Ministry of Health, however, clarified that it is waiting for an opinion from specialists to decide whether to authorize the use of chloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19 in serious condition.
In messages on its social networks, the ministry indicated that chloroquine is widely produced in Brazil in different private laboratories and also in the Army’s laboratory and in the plants of the state-run Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz).
“Given the possibility that it could be used for seriously ill patients with coroaviruses, the government decided to expand its production and authorized the Army Laboratory to increase the production of the medicine,” the ministry added.
“Tests are still being carried out to verify the efficacy of chloroquine in the treatment of the coronavirus. But, from now on, its purchase can only be made by prescription so that we do not run out of inventories, even because it has strong side effects” , added the Health portfolio, advising against the use of chloroquine by the population without medical advice.
The ministry also clarified that, in addition to its side effects, medicine is ineffective in preventing the disease and is only experienced for treatment.
Trials with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the treatment against coronavirus have also been encouraged by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
According to the last bulletin of the Ministry of Health, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Brazil rose to 1,128 this Saturday and the number of deaths from the disease rose to 18, which places the death rate from the pandemic in the largest Latin American country in the 1.6% of those infected.
With 224 new confirmations in the last 24 hours, the number of cases grew by 24.78% compared to the 904 recorded until Thursday, while, with the 7 new deaths, the number of deaths jumped by 63.63% in relation to the 11 registered the day before.