A picture taken on November 15, 2019 shows an inscription at the entrance of the new building of the headquarters of European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Amsterdam. (AFP photo)
The European Union has warned that a family of anti-malarial drugs that is constantly being touted as an effective cure for the coronavirus infection by many, including US President Donald Trump, could have fatal side effects.
The European Medicines Agency, the blocís drug regulator, repeated concerns on Thursday that chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, the two drugs being prescribed in the US and some other countries as treatments for the COVID-19, have yet to demonstrate any medical benefits and, therefore, should not be used outside trials or national emergency use programs.
"Recent studies have reported serious, in some cases fatal, heart rhythm problems with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, particularly when taken at high doses or in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin," read a statement by the Amsterdam-based EMA.
The drugs could also cause low blood sugar, liver and kidney problems as well as nerve cell damage that can lead to seizures.
The statement came days after the largest study on drugs, commissioned by the US government, found that the two drugs had no effects on the virus and instead, hydroxychloroquine was associated with more deaths among the patients.
The survey, based on data provided by the US Veterans Health Administration, found that about 28 percent of patients who were given hydroxychloroquineand usual care died of the disease while only 11 percent of those getting routine care lost their lives.
About 22 percent of those getting the drug plus azithromycin, an antibiotic also touted by Trump, died too but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to make decisive conclusions.
The American head of state has called hydroxychloroquine a "game-changer" and a "gift from God" to counter the pandemic, which has killed over 48,000 people in the US alone over the past few weeks.
Trump is so convinced of the drugís effectiveness that earlier this month he threatened India with "retaliation" after New Delhi decided to ban exports of hydroxychloroquine.
India, dubbed the pharmacy of the world, banned the exports as countries began to stockpile the anti-malarial drug. However, Trumpís threat forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to authorize exports to the US.
WHO: Malaria deaths to double due to COVID-19 pandemic
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Thursday that malaria deaths risked doubling amid concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could severely disrupt access to anti-malaria nets and drugs in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018," the WHO warned, citing new modelling analysis.
The analysis considers nine scenarios for possible lack of access to core malaria control tools across 41 countries during the pandemic and predicts that under the worst-case scenario "the estimated tally of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 would reach 769,000."
That is two times the deaths reported in the sub-Saharan Africa region in 2018, two thirds of which were children under five.
"This means that countries across the region have a critical window of opportunity to minimize disruptions in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak," the WHO said of the sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 95 percent of all the worldís malaria cases and deaths occur.
SOURCE: PRESS TV