The Guild of Medical Doctors, an association of private medical practitioners, has cautioned Nigerians not to believe claims that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a cure for COVID-19 as the jury is still out on the question.
It released a statement on Tuesday reacting to a viral video where a US-based Nigeria- trained physician, Dr Stella Immanuel, said she combined the drug with zinc and Zithromax to successfully treat over 350 patients in a Texas-based clinic.
Immanuel had addressed journalists on Monday during a press conference hosted by the Tea Party Patriots and America’s Frontline Doctors to address “massive disinformation campaign” about the pandemic.
The video has generated controversy on the social media with some regarding it as a political stunt aimed at promoting President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.
Major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, have pulled it down from their sites
“People must understand that this is not scientific evidence and just her own personal, unsubstantiated claims,” the association said in a statement signed by its President, Prof. Olufemi Emmanuel Babalola.
“The important point, of course, is to note that medical research has subjected HCQ to intense research. While some studies suggest that it is effective, others have come to the opposite conclusion. It is also true that Senegal, where HCQ is routinely used, has one of the lowest Covid-19 case fatality rates in the world at 0.64 per cent compared to 3.4 per cent in the USA.”
The association said the result of a study conducted by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital on the efficacy and safety of the drug had yet to be released.
“Subsequently, a meta-analysis of all these studies should be undertaken to pool all the results and come up with a summative analysis which will guide clinicians.
“Until then, all anecdotal claims such as the one from Dr Stella Immanuel must be taken with a pinch of salt. It should also be noted that HCQ may be a cause of serious complications and even death in some people,” the association pointed out.
It emphasised that coronavirus was real and had killed many health workers in Nigeria.
“This disease is definitely not a joke and we strongly condemn the politicisation of the disease and the treatments currently being used to fight the pandemic,” it added.
“As at today, the whole world is still actively looking for effective treatment and, of course, a vaccine. Until then, everyone has a responsibility to remain safe and protect one another through the ways proven to help,” the association stated.
It recommended the use of face masks, social distancing, and maintenance of proper hygiene.
Earlier in July, the World Health Organisation discontinued a trial on the use of hydroxychloroquine after finding that there was “little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care”.