Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Nigeria’s Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) have reacted to video claims by a U.S-based medical doctor, Stella Emmanuel, that a combination of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Zinc and Zithromax cures Covid-19.
The video accompanied by a flood-tide of reactions around the world has broken the internet as Dr. Emmanuel claimed with a pomp, she has successfully treated over 350 patients of Covid-19 with the drug combination.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have since taken down the video amid fears of misinformation. It racked up 17 million views on Facebook alone before it was removed.
“I’m here because I have personally treated over 350 patients with COVID,” Immanuel said in the video.
“Patients that have diabetes, patients that have high blood pressure, patients that have asthma, old people… I think my oldest patient is 92…87-year-olds. And the result has been the same. I put them on hydroxychloroquine, I put them on zinc, I put them on Zithromax, and they’re all well,” she claimed in Washington D.C on Monday, at a news conference held by a group of American doctors under the aegis of ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’, just opposite the U.S. Supreme Court.
Following her viral claim, the NCDC quickly said on Twiter Tuesday, that the use of hydroxychloroquine is “only limited to clinical trials.
“Some trial drugs show promising results but are yet to be validated for use.
“In Nigeria, use of hydroxychloroquine is ONLY limited to clinical trials.” NCDC said.
Born as a Cameroonian, Emmanuel was trained as a medical doctor at the University of Calabar, in South-South Nigeria, where she graduated in 1990.
She has been living in the U.S, practising as a paediatrician. She also runs a pentecostal Fire Power Deliverance Ministry in Texas.
Emmanuel spoke at a two-day “White Coat Summit” at the Capitol Hill where medical doctors met in the U.S to address what they call “massive disinformation campaign” surrounding the virus.
Reacting to her claim, President of GMD, Prof. Olufemi Babalola in a statement released in Abuja, Tuesday, said Emmanuel ’s claim is her opinion and has not been substantiated by science as research on the efficacy of the combination of Hydrochloroquine (HCQ), Zinc and Zithromax to treat COVID-19 has not been concluded.
“There is no scientific evidence to prove the claim,” Babalola said. “We have watched with dismay the viral video of Dr Stella Immanuel, a doctor in the United States of America.
“The video has been shared all over the country and led to many people justifiably asking the question, ‘What do you think, doctor?
“The video was part of a news conference held in America.”
Prof. Babalola stated that the ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ was founded by Dr Simone Gold, a board-certified physician and attorney, made up of medical doctors who came together to address what the group termed “massive disinformation campaign” about the coronavirus.
The guild president noted that while some studies suggested that it was effective, others felt otherwise.
“It is 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 U.S.
“As we speak, a study is underway at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on its efficacy and safety. Subsequently, a meta-analysis of all these studies should be undertaken to pool all the results and come up with analysis which will guide clinicians.
“So, until then, all anecdotal claims such as the one from Dr Stella Immanuel must be taken with a pinch of salt,” Babalola said.
Hydroxychloroquine has long been used to treat malaria, as well as other conditions such as lupus and arthritis.
For over a century, it has helped save millions of lives in West Africa and elsewhere on the continent, where malaria parasite has become a phenomenon.
It’s used to reduce fever and inflammation, and the hope has been that it can also inhibit the virus that causes COVID-19.
However, the use and the effectiveness of HCQ to battle Covid-19-contagion continues to spark daily controversies around the world, even as the race for a Covid-19 vaccine intensifies among several candidate drugs already being touted.
U.S President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have both claimed hydroxychloroquine could prevent or treat Covid-19, urging health officials to consider its administration.
Both Presidents claimed they have used the drug as Bolsonaro who recently tested negative to the lethal virus after going down with it said the use of the drug largely contributed to his recovery.
However, medical experts have been critical of the touted claims of using HCQ to cure Covid, with the World Health Organisation warning against its administration on patients.
According to Prof. Babalola, HCQ may cause serious complications and even death in some people.
But as the claims and counter-claims continue to mount, the politicization of the Coronavirus pandemic; the race for a cure vaccine and the use of HCQ among other contentious issues, have divided politicians and medical researchers around the world and in no small way polarized the United States where Emmanuel made her claim with much audacity, as the country prepares for its blockbuster November presidential poll.