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Marcela Leiros – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – Most populous capital of the Amazon with its 2.2 million inhabitants – according to estimates by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) – Manaus has become “guinea pig” in the prescription of the “Kit Covid”. The early treatment became known as a trademark in the management of David Almeida (Avante), in the Manaus City Hall. In the municipal health units, patients receive prescriptions with guidelines to take drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and azithromycin, even without confirmation of the disease.

On July 21, the CENARIUM visited two UBSs located in different areas of the capital of Amazonas. In Morro da Liberdade, in the South Zone, the first observation was the delay in patient care, even with few people waiting to confirm or rule out the Covid-19 infection. There were two hours waiting between the appointment with the general clinician and the result of the RT-PCR test done at the unit.

In the long wait was Maria Silva*, 63 years old, who was accompanying her 15 year old grandson with a suspicion of Covid-19. She said she had visited the same unit on July 13, when she tested positive for the disease. The doctor who was there, Oscar Villágomez Hurtado, prescribed drugs from the “Covid kit”: azithromycin, ivermectin, prednisone and omeprazole. However, when seeking a second medical opinion, the prescription was changed.

“The other doctor changed it, she changed it because she thought that since I am vaccinated, I have antibodies and, because of my age, she thought other medicines with mineral salts, vitamin C, vitamin D were better”, said Maria, already immunized with the two doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford when infected with the virus.

Unconfirmed prescription

In another health unit, in the Coroado neighborhood, East Zone of the capital, the reporter found the prescription of medications even without the RT-PCR test, which is also done there. Passing herself off as a patient and describing some of Covid’s symptoms, the reporter was oriented to see a doctor first, since “the symptoms were recent”.

Also after a two-hour wait at the UBS, the doctor Patricia del Pilar Suarez Sicchar prescribed drugs such as azithromycin, ivermectin, vitamin D, zinc, and acetylcysteine, claiming that the goal was to anticipate the test in order to be more successful in the treatment.

On site, it was also found the use of a standard medical prescription to patients with suspected respiratory syndrome. The document, like a template, was already printed with the list of drugs that make up the ‘Kit Covid’, such as hydroxychloroquine, iver-mectin, azithromycin, vitamin D, zinc, paracetamol, prednisone, amoxilin, bro-mexin, and acetylcysteine.

Politicization of health

In January of this year, with only 13 days in office and facing the health crisis that devastated the capital of Amazonas, Almeida already defended, on national television, that professionals of the municipal health system prescribe the medicines. “We are offering the population of the city of Manaus the information they gave us that when the person feels the first symptoms, they should look for a Basic Health Unit so they can start treatment early”, he told CNN Brazil.

And continued the defense of medications to prevent and combat Covid-19, without explaining the scientific origin, also promising their “distribution”. “We have the medications prescribed by doctors and this treatment is exactly so that the disease does not worsen. However, we have prophylactics and we will also be indicating the medical prescription in the next few days and making the distribution”, he said.

The reportage contacted the Manaus City Hall and the Municipal Health Department (Semsa) for further clarification on the prescription of the Covid Kit, but did not get back until the publication of this issue.

(*) Fictitious name, to preserve identity, at the request of the character.