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Are anti-malaria drugs really a game changer for coronavirus patients? – Firstpost



The novel coronavirus ravaging the planet currently has no cure. The virus, which evidence suggests originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, belongs to the same coronavirus family which caused SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2002 and is attributed to 15% of flu cases. The SARS-CoV-2 strain which causes COVID-19, however, has never been seen before which means that no therapy has been developed specifically for it. As stated by the WHO, currently no treatment or cure directly addresses COVID-19 – all medical intervention is currently focused on easing and fighting symptoms. Developing new drugs is a technological and bureaucratical task which can take years – but the world needs answers right now. 

Representational image. Getty Images

Previously developed drugs, among them broadspectrum anti-virals, HIV drugs, and those developed for Ebola and SARS have seen a surge of interest and clinical trials are underway to gauge their effectiveness in treating COVID-19.

Interestingly, anti-malaria drug chloroquine, and its derivative hydroxychloroquine, has entered the fold as well. President Trump insists that it could be a game-changer, and several countries, including India as of yesterday, have given a nod to the drug. 

What is the evidence in favour of the drugs?

The fact is that evidence so far is limited and based on anecdotal reports from doctors combating the disease. Many clinical trials are currently underway, and it will be a while before any consensus emerges from them. 

A highly cited French study is being used to prop up chloroquine’s effectiveness. The unblinded, 25 participant study showed that those treated with the drug had a decrease in viral load; positive cases went from 90% to 25%. Supplemented with azithromycin, a broad-based antibiotic, the decrease in viral load was even greater. 

However, this is a highly flawed study; the sample size is tiny, and an examination of supplementary data shows that only 4 participants underwent PCR testing to assess viral loads – the rest of the data was qualitative. A poorly designed, small study is hardly the benchmark for basing national drug policies. 

Previous in-vitro studies have shown that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine reduce the spread of the virus strain that caused SARS (SARS-CoV-1). Since SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 are very similar, these findings have raised hopes in the medical community. 

However, Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who appears regularly alongside President Trump, has maintained that the evidence for the drug’s effectiveness remains unconvincing. While it may play a role in treating COVID-19, clinical trials, which are currently underway, will have the final say in the matter. 

What is chloroquine?

Chloroquine is an oral prescription drug, derived from the naturally occurring quinine, which was discovered in 1820. Quinine is the active ingredient in antimalarials and has helped to dramatically reduce the number of malaria-related deaths. Tonic water has some quinine in it – it has been suggested that the combination of gin and tonic was consumed widely in colonial India to ward off the mosquito-based infection. 

Hydroxychloroquine is used for treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Why may the drug be useful against COVID-19? Previous research with SARS-CoV has shown that the drug inhibits the ability of the virus to replicate. 

Health officials urge not to self medicate

At least three cases of overdoses have been reported in Nigeria and one in the US as well. While the advantages of the drugs are that they are easily available, cheap and well-tolerated, side effects do exist – such as nausea, altered state, and diarrhoea. Dangerous interactions have also been noted in medical literature, so it is advised to not take the drug on your own volition. 

In approving hydroxychloroquine, ICMR emphasized that it was only for health workers and caregivers treating sick family members. 

While times are unpredictable and scary, it is always a bad idea to self-medicate, especially when prescription drugs are involved. Until stronger studies and clinical trials are able to corroborate current suspicions, preventive measures remain the best course of action.

For more tips, read our article on Coronavirus.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health

Updated Date: Mar 24, 2020 16:25:07 IST

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Coronavirus: Woman explains day-by-day symptoms of COVID-19 – 'literal fire in my lungs' – Express



“Now, I can really understand and support the seriousness of just staying home, and not spreading this.

“It truly affects every person differently, and I consider myself to be very lucky to have it only last a couple of weeks, and some people it’s very mild, and some people die. You just don’t know, it’s literally a roll of the dice.

“So, if anything I can just say please stay home.

“I’ve done it. It’s like 22 days now, and I’m actually cool. It’s all good.”

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LFP's providing unlimited access to our COVID-19 coverage. Here's the latest: April 6 – The London Free Press



The social and economic response to the coronavirus threat is changing by the hour in Southwestern Ontario and across Canada. Here is a rundown of our latest coverage on the London-area fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic

The social and economic response to the coronavirus threat is changing by the hour in Southwestern Ontario and across Canada. Here is a rundown of our latest coverage on the London-area fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic:

ICYMI: News from the weekend:


(*Figures for Southwestern Ontario as of Sunday, April 5, 2020 at 5 p.m.)

  • Ontario: 4,038 cases; 119 deaths
  • London and Middlesex County: 134 cases; five deaths
  • Oxford and Elgin counties (combined): 21 cases; two deaths
  • Brant County: 46 cases; one death
  • Chatham-Kent: 12 cases; one death
  • Sarnia-Lambton: 79 cases; eight deaths
  • Huron-Perth: 17 cases; one death
  • Grey-Bruce: 21 cases; no deaths
  • Windsor-Essex: 184 cases; three deaths
  • Regional case total: 514
  • Regional deaths: 21

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Each day we will have a rundown of our latest coverage on the London-area fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news and updates as they happen. Email with any cancellations or stories. For more local and national stories go to: lfpress/tag/coronavirus

Got a coronavirus question? Submit to Curious London

Here’s our LFP COVID-19 day-by-day coverage:

 Curious London

These are unprecedented times. So we’re adjusting our newest project, Curious London, to focus solely on questions you may have about COVID-19 and how it has already or soon may affect you. We’ve gathered up your questions and provided some answers:

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Got COVID-19 symptoms? Avoid snuggling with Fluffy and Fido, experts advise – National Post



Canadians who are sick with COVID-19 or suspect they have the virus are being warned to be careful around their pets and other animals.

“COVID-19 virus infections have become widely distributed in the human population. In some rare circumstances, some animals have become infected through close contact with infected humans,” says a statement on the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association website.

The association points out that there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19 and that human outbreaks are driven by person-to-person contact.

But as a precautionary measure, it refers to recent recommendations from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency which say anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or those who are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case should follow similar recommendations around pets and livestock as they would around people.

That includes avoiding close contact with animals, good handwashing and avoiding coughing and sneezing on animals. It also means limiting your animal’s contact with other people and animals outside the household, and if possible, have someone else in your home care for your animals.

“Scientists are still trying to understand if and how (COVID-19) affects animals. This is an area that continues to be studied,” the CFIA website says, citing the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The organisation says on its website that evidence suggests COVID-19 emerged from an animal source, and that genetic sequence data shows it is a close relative of other coronaviruses in horseshoe bat populations.

But it says to date, there is not enough scientific evidence to identify the source or to explain the original route of transmission from an animal source to humans.

“Currently, there is no evidence that companion animals are playing a significant epidemiological role in this human disease,” the organization’s website states.

“However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases (known as zoonotic diseases), it is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus.”

The Saskatchewan government said Sunday that anyone with COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals.

“If there is already an animal in the household, that animal should remain in isolation along with the patient,” a provincial news release said.

The Bronx Zoo announced Sunday that one of its tigers tested positive for the new coronavirus. The four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia — and six other tigers and lions that have also fallen ill — are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn’t yet showing symptoms, the zoo said.

Despite warnings to avoid animals, the CFIA notes that if you’re not showing COVID-19 symptoms or self-isolating, taking walks with pets and spending time with them is still beneficial for both of you.

“Pets contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress,” the agency’s website says.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2020.

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