French pharmaceutical Sanofi offers anti-malaria treatment for COVID-19 after ‘promising’ trials

French pharmaceutical Sanofi offers anti-malaria treatment for COVID-19 after ‘promising’ trials
The study on 24 patients with coronavirus using Le Plaquenil, a hydroxychloroquine molecule, which has also been used for decades for the treatment of autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. (File/AFP)
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Updated 18 March 2020

French pharmaceutical Sanofi offers anti-malaria treatment for COVID-19 after ‘promising’ trials

French pharmaceutical Sanofi offers anti-malaria treatment for COVID-19 after ‘promising’ trials
  • Sanofi said it was ready to offer France millions of doses of Plaquenil
  • Several experts called for caution in the absence of further studies

DUBAI: A leading French pharmaceutical company said it could potentially treat 300,000 COVID-19 patients with the anti-malarial drug Plaquenil after what it described as “promising” test results.

Sanofi said it was ready to offer France millions of doses of Plaquenil, a spokesperson for the laboratory told AFP, adding that the group was ready to work with French health authorities “to confirm these results.”

The study on 24 patients with coronavirus using Plaquenil, a hydroxychloroquine molecule, which has also been used for decades for the treatment of autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Six days after the start of taking Plaquenil, the virus had disappeared in three-quarters of those treated, said Professor Didier Raoult, who is director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Marseille.

The French government said the clinical trials were “promising” and would be extended to more patients.

These new clinical trials “will be carried out with a team independent from Professor (Didier) Raoult”, said spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye after a Council of Ministers, stressing that at this stage there was “no scientific evidence” that this treatment works.

Several experts called for caution in the absence of further studies due to the dangers of side effects.

“I have taken note of the results and have given the authorization so that a larger trial by other teams can be initiated as soon as possible on a larger number of patients,” said Minister of Health Olivier Veran.


Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID

Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID
Updated 50 min 31 sec ago

Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID

Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID
  • Almost a third of patients who recover return to hospital within 5 months, 1 in 8 dies
  • Author: ‘People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying’

LONDON: A new study has revealed the devastating toll that COVID-19 takes on those who recover, with patients experiencing a myriad of illnesses including heart problems, diabetes and chronic conditions.

The study by researchers at the University of Leicester and the UK’s Office of National Statistics said data shows that almost a third of patients who recover from infection return to hospital with further symptoms within five months, and one in eight die.

Out of 47,780 people who were discharged from hospital in the UK’s first wave, 29.4 percent were readmitted to hospital within 140 days, and 12.3 percent of the total died.

“This is the largest study of people discharged from hospital after being admitted with COVID-19,” said the study’s author Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at the University of Leicester.

“People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying. We see nearly 30 percent have been readmitted, and that’s a lot of people. The numbers are so large. The message here is we really need to prepare for long COVID.”

Long COVID is the term used to characterize the long-term effects that many patients experience after catching and subsequently recovering from the virus.

Khunti said the illnesses that people have been recorded as experiencing after recovering include heart, kidney and liver problems, as well as diabetes.

Other studies have found that patients experience breathlessness and fatigue, and some have even been confined to wheelchairs by long COVID.

The University of Leicester study has not yet been peer reviewed, meaning it has not yet undergone rigorous critique by peers in the field, but scientists have already hailed its results.

Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London, tweeted: “This is such important work. Covid is about so much more than death.”