Djibouti, others cautioned about chloroquine despite big COVID-19 recoveries

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Djibouti's coronavirus patients are recovering but experts have issued cautions with regards to a reliance on hydroxychloroquine

Scientists are cautioning against the reliance on hydroxychloroquine in Djibouti‘s management of the coronavirus even though the small African country has seen improved recoveries.

Speaking to the VOA, Sultan Ayoub Meo, a clinical physiologist at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, said although recent peer-reviewed studies have spoken to the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as well as chloroquine, there is a need to be cautious.

“Although the literature is supporting, I must say being a physician, being a scientist, that these entire studies, their sample size is not sufficient to reach a proper conclusion. I think the science community must have to conduct large sample size clinical trials globally,” Dr. Meo told the VOA.

According to the WHO, Djibouti has about 2047 cases of COVID-19. It is the African country with the highest number of cases per 100,000 people, with the country’s population being just around 1 million.

But the country has seen more than a thousand recoveries and just 10 deaths. This relative success has been down entirely to the administration of hydroxychloroquine, according to Djibouti’s head of COVID-19 response center.

In spite of this, the WHO’s representative in Djibouti says “until today do not have evidence that it (the drug) is something that is functional” against the coronavirus.

Ahmed Zouiten added, “[W]e see that we have very good outcomes of that treatment today in Djibouti but WHO cannot just work on observation, WHO works on evidence.”

Mauritius, Mauritania and, Morocco are three other countries on the continent that have seen some success with using hydroxychloroquine, with the first two countries at some points recording zero new coronavirus infections over weeks.

The drug entered into the popular discussion in this pandemic after U.S. President Donald Trump announced, against federal health authorities’ advice, that hydroxychloroquine was effective against the novel coronavirus.

In the wake of the announcement, at least three people were hospitalized in Nigeria for what health officials said was chloroquine poisoning after Nigerian pharmacies spoke of high demand for the drug following Trump’s speech.