Hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin drugs trial on Covid-19 patients start

The Government is conducting a trial of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin drugs on a coronavirus patient admitted at Aga Khan Hospital Intensive Care Unit.

According to the Director General in the Ministry of Health Dr Patrick Amoth (pictured), medics are using anti-malarial drugs, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin which is antibiotic to stabilise the patient, whom he described as responding very well to the treatment.

When questioned about the drugs the government was using to treat the coronavirus patients, Dr Amoth said being that the virus has no specific cure, the hospitals only give drugs to suppress symptoms like cough, fever or headache.

He, however, cautioned that the use of antimalarial and antibiotic drugs was a mere trial, stating that it had not been declared as the cure because the government is waiting to try more cases.

Kenya confirmed 22 more cases to bring the total tally to 81 up from 59 within the last 24 hours. Those who tested positive were 18 Kenyans, two Cameroonians and two Pakistani nationals.

The government’s decision to try the therapy using the two drugs comes after much viral debate on the suitability and efficacy of the two drugs in fighting the bug.

On March 21, 2020, US President Donald Trump trended on social media platforms after he stated on his Twitter page that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin could prove to be the game-changer in curing the virus.

President Trump’s suggestion preceded a research study by Chinese scientists earlier this year which revealed that the two drugs could help cure coronavirus, by slowing the virus from invading the body cells.

But the assertion was later rendered ineffective after trials revealed that there was no difference exhibited by those on the two drugs and those who had not used them.

Last month, the World Health Organization raised hopes when it said that some drugs could be useful against the virus, but they could only be employed after thorough and largescale trials.

“A number of drugs have shown promise in treating other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, that may be helpful in fighting COVID-19,” said Dr Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program.

But in reference to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, Dr Ryan said that there were no clear indications that they were effective on Covid-19.

“So that we’re clear, there’s no proven effective therapeutic or drug against COVID-19,” he added. WHO warned against self-medication and wave of panic-buying the two drugs saying that those who medically require them would suffer due to shortage.

But just shortly after Trump’s statement, Arizona couple reportedly succumbed after self-medication by using chloroquine phosphate meant for parasites.

A recent study in USA suggested ways through which the antimalarial drugs could help fight Covid-19.

Titled “Conversation Could Chloroquine Treat Coronavirus? Five questions are answered about a promising yet problematic and unproved use for an antimalarial drug”, the study was done by Katherine Seley-Radtke and published by the Conversation.

It states: “It has been suggested that the chloroquines can change the acidity at the surface of the cell, thereby preventing the virus from infecting it. It’s also possible chloroquines help activate the immune response.”

It, however, concludes that the two drugs have not been evaluated and passed for the treatment of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has said that there are plans to manufacture protective gear locally.

“We are working to address the global shortage of PPEs by having them manufactured locally. Already KIKOTEC in Kitui has been approved to manufacture facemasks and has begun manufacturing process,” it said.

Kenya currently has 81 cases, three recoveries and one death

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