The prospect that a pair of malaria drugs will become go-to medications for treating COVID-19 before they’ve been rigorously tested is prompting new safety warnings from heart specialists and other doctors and experts.
has touted the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game changer” for patients sickened by the novel coronavirus, and federal officials have asked pharmaceutical manufacturers to make their stocks of these drugs available for immediate use.
But as the medications begin pouring into hospital pharmacies and physicians begin prescribing them, their potential side effects are raising alerts.
An article published this week in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings warns that both drugs could prompt dangerous and potentially deadly heart arrhythmias in the 3 million people worldwide who have a congenital cardiac condition – called long QT syndrome – that can cause the heart to beat erratically and lead to sudden death.
In addition, millions of people in
take medications that prolong the heart’s “QT interval,” the span of time it takes the heart’s electrical system to recharge between beats.
Those people – including patients who take common antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs or any one of a wide range of antibiotics – are probably also at risk of developing a dangerously irregular heartbeat if they take one of the malaria drugs without being closely monitored by a doctor, the article’s authors said.
Roughly 13 per cent of Americans over the age of 12 take an antidepressant medication.
It’s not clear how many more Americans are “QT reactors” – people whose hearts respond to certain drugs with electrical changes that could trigger arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
With potentially millions of patients taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, the unexpected appearance of these side effects in even a small percentage of them could spell disaster, said Dr.
Michael J. Ackerman
, a geneticist at the
, who co-authored the new report.
“We will pay the piper for this tragic side effect, and we need to make sure we do everything possible to prevent treatment-related sudden death,” said Ackerman, who treats and studies those with congenital heart conditions.
“We have the tools and we have the knowledge” to avoid sudden cardiac deaths among people treated with the malaria drugs, Ackerman said.
But the medical community will need to be made more aware of this side effect.
He added that if these drugs are to be used safely, doctors will need to screen their patients carefully and devise a plan to monitor their heart rhythms after they’re sent home with the drug.
Meanwhile, a dispatch posted this week to MedPage Today, a blog and medical news service widely read by doctors, warned that chloroquine can cause hemolytic anemia if administered to people with a common genetic condition called G6PD deficiency.
Hemolytic anemia can lead to shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and in severe cases, kidney failure and death.
“Chloroquine is not a harmless panacea for COVID-19,” wrote Dr.
Dan J. Vick
, a pathologist who teaches healthcare administration at
Central Michigan University
Its use is specifically discouraged in patients with G6PD deficiency.
The problem: Many of those patients never know they have G6PD until a new drug or dietary quirk triggers a crisis that prompts red blood cells to break down faster than they can be made.
The disorder affects between 10 per cent and 14 per cent of
men in the
, and is common in people from the Mediterranean region,
Nearly all patients with G6PD are.
Two clinical trials in
aim to test whether hydroxycloroquine might prevent illness in
When medications are tested for use by healthy people who may become ill, regulators typically demand a high level of safety.
Clinical trials in humans and other primates, however, have tempered hopes.
Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine failed to help patients infected with the dengue and chikungunya viruses, and it also failed to protect against the flu.
The Italian doctors who authored the review in the
Journal of Critical Care
added that “safety data and data from high-quality clinical trials are urgently needed.”
Meanwhile, the drugs, used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are also pouring into hospitals and pharmacies in the
and around the world.
Trump has insisted there is “very strong evidence” to support his confidence in the malaria drugs as treatment for COVID-19.
“I feel good about it,” he said last week. “That’s all it is, just a feeling.”
The pharmaceutical giant Novartis has pledged a donation of 130 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine, and the generic manufacturer Teva announced it will donate 16 million tablets to hospitals across
the United States
The generic giant Mylan said it is restarting production of hydroxychloroquine at a manufacturing facility in
and could readily produce 50 million tablets.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
NARD supports Ogun doctors’ demand for improved work condition
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), South West Caucus, has called on the Ogun Government to improve working condition of its members in the state.
In a statement jointly signed on Monday in Ibadan by its Leader, Dr Sebastine Oiwoh and Deputy, Dr Taoofek Sanni, urged Gov. Dapo Abiodun to look into the demands of the doctors.
NAN reports that resident doctors at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, had demanded for improved working conditions.
“These demands are in line with international best practices and needed for the care of the entire populace, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic where Ogun State is one of the epicentres in Nigeria.
“The Federal Government and other state governments have since ramped up the needed policies, plans and protocols to properly position our members at a vantage position for victory over this unseen enemy.
“The association extended its solidarity and appreciated members in the state for managing to provide necessary health services to the people in spite of discouraging work conditions, inadequate facilities and poor remuneration,” it said.
The NARD also commended its members in various isolation centres in the state for their commitment, sacrifices and dignity of labour in spite of being owed their entitlements.
The association, however, frowned at the governor for alleged provocation and misinforming the public that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the doctors when such never existed.
“For the avoidance of doubt and to place the records straight, the most noble profession of medicine is a veritable and time proven repertoire of highly cerebral, emotionally mature, administratively astute and clinically sound hippocratic progenitors.
“All these is exemplified by our esteemed members at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, who are demanding for proper and adequate working conditions, while keeping the interest of esteemed patients at heart always.
“NARD had expected the governor to carefully, holistically and pragmatically look into the demands which was devoid of emotional blackmail,” it said.
The association said that it was closely monitoring the present situation in Ogun and and act appropriate.
Chinese Doctors: ADC demands health minister’s apology for “misinforming” Nigerians
The African Democratic Congress (ADC) has asked the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to apologize for “misinforming” Nigerians on the mission of the 15 Chinese doctors who arrived in the country on April 8.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Yemi Kolapo, said this in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday.
She said: “Ehanire has failed to address the real issues raised by concerned Nigerians on the whereabouts of a ’15-member Chinese medical team.’
“In a matter that had been followed by the entire world, a simple apology will reassure Nigerians that we are not being taken for fools.
“Not apologising for this needless messy situation would send a wrong signal to the world on the manner of governance in Nigeria.”
Kolapo said that the ADC was at the forefront of calls for support for the Federal Government because of the party’s conviction that politicising the COVID-19 pandemic would neither benefit citizens nor the economy.
She said the Chinese medical team saga was, however, a dent that cannot be straightened with a passing remark.
The spokesperson said this was not with the kind of world attention the federal government attracted to the country a few hours before the arrival of the doctors turned technicians.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
Nigerian resident doctors issue ultimatum for strike amid COVID-19 fight
Resident doctors in Nigeria have issued an ultimatum to embark on an indefinite strike if the government failed to address their demands within 14 days, as the country continues to battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Sunday told the media that the agreement to embark on the indefinite strike action was reached on Saturday.
Part of the demands of the NARD from the government included the provision of adequate personnel protective equipment, such as N95 respirators, gloves, and others to all health workers during this pandemic, Aliyu said.
The resident doctors also demanded the prompt payment of their salaries, as well as the immediate recall of their sacked colleagues in central Nigeria. According to the association, 26 resident doctors at the Jos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria‘s central Plateau State were illegally disengaged without recourse to the law governing residency training.
The doctors also called on security agencies especially in Lagos, Delta, and Abuja to stop the harassment and assault of doctors while carrying out their legitimate activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NARD president noted the shortage of medical staff, especially resident doctors in most health institutions across the country, and called on the government to quickly address the problem.
Veterinary doctors donate items to Ondo Govt to fight COVID-19
Prof. Adebayo Abayomi, Chairman of the association, donating the items in Akure, said it was based on professional consideration for some of their colleagues in the frontline toward contain spread of the virus.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the items donated by the association include Digital Clinical Thermometers, hand sanitisers and bottle water.
Abayomi said that medical officers at various hospitals and Isolation Centres were in need of protective materials to prevent them from contracting the disease.
He said that the association was poised to support the state government’s proactive efforts at stamping out the deadly disease from the state.
Also, a member of the association, Dr Adebiyi Oluwafemi, said the association deemed it fit to contribute to flattening the curve of the deadly disease.
Oluwafemi said effect of the pandemic was overwhelming, adding that the state government could not do it alone.
He said beside donation of the items, the association had also embarked on sensitisation of the public on how to combat the COVID-19.
According to him, the major meal of people in isolation centres is table egg.
He said that eggs have components of vitamins that combat diseases as well as boost the immunity level of the body.
The State Commisioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro, receiving the items, commended the association for considering it necessary at this critical time to donate the items.
Adegbenro said the state government would continue to welcome their assistance.
Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
Resident Doctors issue 14-day strike notice to FG
The Association stated this in a communique issued at the end of its virtual 40th Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) and Scientific Conference.
“NARD also demands immediate recall of the sacked resident doctors at Jos University Teaching Hospital and payments of their salaries.”
According to the association, 26 resident doctors at the Jos University Teaching Hospital were illegally disengaged without recourse to the law governing Residency training.
“The association also demands for universal implementation of the Residency Training Act in both Federal and State Teaching hospitals.
“OGM resolves that urgent steps be taken to ensure that the fate of our members at the State Tertiary Health Institutions be improved through engagement with the various state governments and relevant stakeholders.
The association enjoined the Federal Government through the National Assembly to ensure full capture of the residency training funding in the 2021 Appropriation Act.
It also demanded for payment of arrears of the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage to it’s members at both Federal and state tertiary health institutions.
The Association condemned what it called “the illegal deductions in salaries” of members by some state governments and demanded for immediate refund.
“NARD observes the slashing of salaries of our members at state tertiary health institutions with particular reference to Kaduna state government that cut the salaries of health workers by twenty five percent.”
It also called on security agencies especially in Lagos, Delta and Abuja to stop the harassment and assault of doctors while carrying out their legitimate activities.
19 inducement allowance of doctors in various health institutions.
“NARD observes non-payment of arrears of the consequential adjustment of new minimum wage to some of her members.
It also observed with concern, the non-implementation of revised CONMESS and skipping arrears by some state governments in various state tertiary teaching hospitals.
Edited By: Shuaib Sadiq/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
Cuban doctors to help Mozambique fight COVID-19
Pavel Orencio Diaz Hernandez told Radio Mozambique in an interview that the move is a response to the request by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi as the country’s health system is threatened by the spread of the coronavirus.
“We received a request from the government of Mozambique asking us to reinforce the contingent of Cuban doctors for the peak or the critical moment of the pandemic and Cuba responded with sending 60 doctors to help fight the pandemic,” said the diplomat.
The doctors will be staying until Mozambique has the pandemic under control, said the ambassador.
Medicines that can help improve the human immune system are also reportedly being shipped from Cuba to Mozambique.
Thailand to create automation robots to assist doctors treating COVID-19 patients
Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO) and the Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Thonburi will be creating four sets of automation robots to assist doctors at four eastern hospitals to facilitate treatment of patients with COVID-19.
Chit Laowattana, special advisor to EECO, said the office has allocated 8 million baht (250,783 U.S. dollars) to the production of the four sets of robots and will be donated in July to four hospitals in the Eastern Economic Corridor.
These robots will enable doctors to talk to patients without the need for face-to-face interaction. In addition, they can kill virus in the air and deliver food, medicine and medical supplies to patients, and allow patients to make video calls to doctors and nurses.
Chit said that the new robots would be equipped with 5G communication devices to enable them to support teleconferences, video recordings, and artificial intelligence application.
Increase in childhood food allergies stumps Aussie doctors
The number of Australian children seeking urgent hospital care due to food allergies surged in the early part of the century leaving doctors baffled, a study revealed on Monday.
Between 2005 and 2015 the number of children presenting to emergency departments with food allergy-related problems in the Australian State of Victoria, went from 2,368 over the course of a year, to 4,263.
The increase was particularly marked in children aged 0-4, which accounted for around half of cases, while the proportion of presentations triaged as requiring urgent care also increasing from 51 percent to 63 percent.
Doctors have been unable to attribute a reason to the drastic increase, but are concerned that it may cause hospital resources to become stretched, resulting in poorer health outcomes.
The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), was led by Professor Harriet Hiscock, director of the Royal Children’s Hospital Health Services Research Unit and group leader, Health Services, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
“While the reason for the increased burden is not clear — that is, whether the prevalence of allergy had increased, management plans had changed, or access to community services was reduced — the consequence is greater demand on emergency services across Melbourne,” the article said.
“This may lead families to consider alternative avenues, which can lead to poor allergy management and the need for emergency care.”
Cambodia awards honorable medals to Chinese military doctors for contributions to COVID-19 fight
Cambodia on Friday awarded the government’s honorable medal decorations to four Chinese military doctors after they had successfully completed their two-month mission in helping the kingdom fight COVID-19.
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Tea Banh presented the “Knight Class” medals to them at a ceremony here, which was also attended by Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian.
“The honorable medals were conferred in recognition of their contributions to help prevent the COVID-19 spread in Cambodia and strengthen Cambodian medical staff’s abilities in the fight against the virus,” Banh said.
He expressed his profound gratitude to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for sending military medical experts, along with medical supplies and equipment, to Cambodia to help combat the highly contagious disease.
“In the past two months, the PLA’s medical team has done their best in helping Cambodia stem the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “They have brought both experience and methods in the fight against the COVID-19 to Cambodian doctors.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a few milestones deserved to be inscribed in the Cambodia-China history, Banh said, adding that those included the special visit of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen to Beijing on Feb. 5, the Cambodia-China military exercise in March, and the sending of Chinese medical team to aid Cambodia’s fight against the virus.
“These activities truly show unity, solidarity, and close cooperation between Cambodia and China in the fight against the COVID-19,” he said. “China‘s medical assistance has given Cambodia more confidence and warmth in the fight against the virus.”
Meanwhile, Wang said mutual help during the pandemic has raised China-Cambodia relations to a new height, and he believes that through joint efforts, Cambodia will be able to prevent and contain the virus effectively.
He said China really appreciated Cambodia’s total objection to politicizing and stigmatizing COVID-19, and also praised the kingdom for its firm support for the World Health Organization’s indispensable role in combating the pandemic.
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