NIGERIAN health officials have warned the general public to ignore rumours that chloroquine has been approved as an effective remedy for the devastating coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the globe.
Although Nigeria has been one of the least affected countries by the virus with just 51 people affected and only one casualty, the public have opted for drastic measures to curb its spread. Many people have resorted to taking the anti-malaria drug chloroquine in the belief that it is an affective cure, leading to a boom in sales.
However, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has dismissed this suggestion, pointing out that the drug has not been approved as a remedy. Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the NCDC director-general, said: “Nigerians should please remember that the use of chloroquine and its derivatives for the management of Covid-19 disease has not been validated and approved by the World Health Organisation (Who).
“There have been promising results by researchers but until then, the drug is not approved for use for Covid-19 treatment. Nigerians should know that self-medication can cause harm and lead to death, so do not misuse drugs.
We understand these are challenging times and Nigerians may be worried but the Federal Ministry of Health, through the NCDC is doing everything it can to continue to ensure the safety and health security of every Nigerian. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have not been licensed to treat Covid-19 related symptoms or prevent infection.”
He added that clinical trials were still ongoing to test chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as an agent in the treatment of Covid-19 or to prevent infection. Dr Ihekweazu said that these clinical trials were still not complete, so no conclusions have been reached on the safety and effectiveness of this medicine to treat or prevent Covid-19.
According to Dr Ihekweazu, until WHO has clear, definitive evidence that these treatments were safe and effective for the treatment of Covid-19, it should not be misused. Lagos State still has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Nigeria with 32 cases, followed by Abuja with 10 cases, Ogun State with three and Ekiti, Oyo Edo, Bauchi Osun and Rivers each have one case.
President Donald Trump started off suggestions about chloroquine being an effective remedy last week when he said the drug and hydroxychloroquine were potential game-changers. His comments led to New York State ordering 70,000 doses for an approved clinical trial.