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Limited chloroquine use against Covid-19 approved

Use of the drug chloroquine, more commonly used to treat malaria, has been officially authorised for ‘serious’ forms of Covid-19.

The announcement was made by Health Minister Olivier Véran, following the go-ahead of public health watchdog le Haut conseil de santé public; however the minister said it should not be used for less serious forms.

The drug has already been making headlines due to its unofficial use in a Marseille hospital where would-be patients have been queuing up to potentially be treated with it, and its inclusion in European (including French) official trials in search of treatments.

A decree is now about to be made, clarifying guidelines for its use, the minister said.

Following announcements by Prof Didier Raoult (who is a member of the scientific advisory committee to the government on Covid-19) about how the drug is proving to be promising in Marseille it has been much-discussed, with a Les Républicains MP from the Bouches-du-Rhône, Valérie Boyer, praising it after she tested positive for Covid-19 and was treated with it.

However officials say prudence is needed and say it is necessary to follow formal clinical testing protocols.

According to Prof Didier Raoult, who initially tested chloroquine on 24 patients, three-quarters of the people treated recovered within six days.

The infectious diseases expert was instrumental in persuading the government to perform wider tests on the drug.

However so far there has been no official, formal, study according to the usual rules, so as to confirm the drug’s effectiveness, hence the cautious advice only to use it for the most serious cases for now.

The Health Ministry says further results from official French trials should be available in two weeks’ time. They are part of European trials evaluating four possible treatments for Covid-19.

The latest figures for Covid-19 in France show 19,856 confirmed cases and 860 deaths since the start of the epidemic.  

Previous stories

French researcher posts successful Covid-19 drug trial 

800 patients in France in Covid-19 drug trial 

Queues at Marseille hospital for drug 

[Subscribers/paywall] Marseille professor seeking to cure Covid-19

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