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

  • 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.


“We were all outraged,” says Arab owner of store at center of US protest firestorm

Updated 31 May 2020

“We were all outraged,” says Arab owner of store at center of US protest firestorm

  • Troops can go in ’very quickly,’ Trump says

CHICAGO: The firestorm of protest, arson and looting that has consumed the US for five days began at the counter of an Arab American grocery store.

Staff working for Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, the owner of Cup Foods, called Minneapolis police after George Floyd, 46, twice tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase.

Officers who arrested Floyd held him to the ground with a knee on his neck, as he pleaded that he could not breathe. He lost consciousness and died later in hospital. One officer has been charged with third-degree murder and further charges are expected.

“What took place outside … was not in our hands,” Abumayyaleh told US TV. “The murder and execution was something done by the police, and it was an abuse of power. The police brutality needs to stop.”

Abumayyaleh said he knew Floyd as a customer, and as someone who was always pleasant. He did not find out until the following morning that the man had died. “We were all outraged,” he said, and Floyd “may not have even known that the bill was counterfeit.”

The store owner and his sons, Samir, Adam and Mahmoud, have gone into hiding in the face of a wave of threats against them on social media. They took down their store’s Facebook page and its landline phone has been disconnected.

Minneapolis has more than 50 Arab- and Muslim-owned stores mostly north of where the incident occurred, all operating under statewide COVID-19 restrictions. Arab store owners said they feared speaking out publicly about the incident.

An unidentified man who answered the phone at one Arab-owned store told Arab News that both the killing of Floyd and vandalism against businesses “is wrong.”

Since Floyd died last Tuesday, protesters have vandalized, looted and burned down more than 200 stores in Minneapolis. On Friday and Saturday, the violence spread to New York, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte North Carolina.

In Minnesota, protesters maintained a daily vigil in front of the Cup Foods store at 3759 Chicago Avenue, painting walls and the street with murals and graffiti in memory of Floyd. After four nights of confrontations in the city, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state’s national guard on Saturday for the first time since the Second World War.

US President Donald Trump said troops could be deployed if local authorities requested their help. “We could have our military there very quickly,” he said.