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Cassandra Castro – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – The World Health Organization (WHO) has been pronouncing itself with caution regarding the use of drugs that have not presented proven scientific evidence of safe and effective use in the treatment of Covid-19. In its official website, the WHO stresses that every country is sovereign to decide on clinical protocols for the use of drugs, but makes a point of disseminating clinical trials and recommendations to support the pandemic.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are licensed products for the treatment of other diseases, such as autoimmune diseases and malaria, but so far there is no scientific evidence that these drugs are effective for the treatment of Covid-19. The WHO has even issued warnings about side effects of these substances. In the case of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which is a similar drug in more widespread use, the occurrences of cardiac arrhythmia, kidney complications, and impaired eye health are prominently cited.

Solidarity Study

Launched in March 2020 by the WHO, the Solidarity Study selects a few treatment options for analysis of efficacy in treating Covid-19. In addition to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, other options were also chosen for evaluation: remdesivir; lopinavir/ritonavir; and lopinavir ritonavir with interferon beta-1a.

In October of last year, the results of the Solidarity Study indicated that the four treatments evaluated (remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir ritonavir, and interferon) had little or no effect on overall mortality, ventilator onset, and length of stay in hospitalized patients. Coordinated by the WHO, the study involves nearly 13,000 patients in 500 hospitals in 30 countries. Other forms of drug use need to be examined through different trials.

Another drug that has been evaluated by the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is ivermectin. The institutions do not immediately recommend the use of the drug for any purposes other than those for which it is indicated, such as the treatment of river blindness and scabies.

In rapid reviews of human studies, PAHO identified uncertainty in the benefits and potential harms to the body such as liver disease and bowel problems, as well as dysfunctions in the central nervous system, among others. On March 31, 2021, the WHO recommended that ivermectin be used only in clinical trials related to Covid-19, due to the current inconclusive evidence on the use of this drug in patients with the disease.

In contrast, the WHO recommends dexamethasone and the use of oxygen support in the usual treatments of severe cases of Covid-19. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid used for the treatment of various diseases for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects. It can help reduce the time a patient needs to be on a ventilator. The drug can save the lives of patients in serious or critical condition. Respiratory support can help patients in serious condition and those at risk of serious illness. More advanced respiratory support, such as ventilation, is used for critically ill patients.

Self-medication, including the use of antibiotics as a way to prevent or cure Covid-19, is not recommended by the WHO and PAHO.