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Coronavirus: Health Canada issues warning on hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine use – Global News

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Canadian health officials working to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus are warning against the use of two drugs touted some as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

Health Canada said chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can have “serious side effects” and should only be used under the supervision of a physician.


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Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are approved medications to treat malaria and some auto-immune diseases, but Health Canada is warning they should only be used if prescribed and under the supervision of a doctor.

“Health Canada is concerned that some people may be directly buying and using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19,” reads a warning on posted on the Health Canada website on April 25.






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According to Health Canada, the drugs are known to potentially cause liver or kidney problems, low blood sugar and nervous system problems, including dizziness, fainting or seizures.

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The medications can also affect heart rhythm, which in most serious cases, may be fatal, Health Canada said.

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According to the warning, children are “especially sensitive” to the drugs, meaning even small doses can be dangerous.

To date, Health Canada has not authorized any drugs to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19.






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The ministry said while a number of medications are being investigated as possible treatments for COVID-19, results from “large, well-designed studies are essential to determine if the benefits of chloroquine and hydroxycholoroquine outweigh their risks in the treatment of COVID-19.”

“To date, data from clinical trials are limited, and the results have not conclusively shown that any specific medications are effective against COVID-19,” the warning reads.


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U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine during his coronavirus briefings, suggesting its skeptics would be proven wrong. He has offered patient testimonials that the drug is a lifesaver.

But a number of early coronavirus studies have suggested problems or no benefit.

Most notably, preliminary research looking into the results of U.S. veteran patients using hydroxychloroquine with or without the azithromycin antibiotic used to treat the disease found no benefit in the use of the malaria drug.

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Public health officials worldwide — including Canada — have also repeatedly warned that promoting the drug’s use would diminish its supply for people that actively need it to treat their auto-immune diseases.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trump says Chloroquine could be a ‘game changer’


Coronavirus outbreak: Trump says Chloroquine could be a ‘game changer’

In a story published in early April, Global News spoke to a woman who was initially unable to refill her prescription of hydroxychloroquine which she needed to treat her lupus.

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, and other malaria drugs for COVID-19 patients outside of hospitals, citing a risk of serious heart rhythm complications.

The FDA’s statement comes a day after the European Union’s drug regulation agency warned of the drug’s side effects as well.

–With files from The Associated Press and Global News reporters Amanda Pope and Leslie Young

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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City asking people to wear masks on buses, but not mandatory – GuelphToday

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As the city prepares to allow more riders on Guelph Transit buses, it is asking riders to wear a non-medical mask or face covering.

They are not mandatory.

Free 30-minute Guelph Transit service will continue for the rest of June but the city says thta with more businesses reopening and more people heading back to work, Guelph Transit is preparing to resume fare collection and regular schedules later in the summer.

In a news release Friday morning, the city said the request is based advice from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

“According to health officials, wearing a homemade face covering/non-medical mask is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand washing. Wearing a mask has not been proven to protect the person wearing it, but it can help protect others around you,” the release said.

“As the buses get busy again, physical distancing may not always be possible. We’re asking riders to wear a non-medical mask or face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” says Robin Gerus, general manager of Guelph Transit.

Guelph Transit is encouraging face coverings, not requiring them.

“It’s becoming more common to wear a mask on public transit in other cities, but it’s new for Guelph. Some riders may not be aware of or understand the latest guidelines from health officials. Some may not have resources to purchase or make a mask, or they may have a medical reason for not wearing one,” added Gerus. Everyone is welcome to use Guelph Transit, and we’re asking people to protect and respect each other as ridership increases.”

Since March, Guelph Transit made the following adjustments to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • free 30-minute service allows passengers to avoid using the farebox and board from the rear door
  • plastic barrier between the driver and passengers
  • hand sanitizing stations and cleaning supplies for drivers
  • no more than 10 people per bus
  • blocked several seats to encourage physical distancing between passengers

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the City and Guelph Transit encourage riders to continue following the latest advice from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health:

  • wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer
  • stay at least two metres away from people you don’t live with
  • when you can’t maintain physical distancing, wear a non-medical mask or face covering

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WHO resumes hydroxychloroquine trial on Covid-19 patients – ITIJ

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On May 25, WHO suspended the trial of the drug, which is usually used to treat malaria patients, after a study published in medical journal The Lancet found that Covid-19 hospitalised patients treated with hydroxychloroquine had a higher risk of death, as well as an increased frequency of irregular heartbeats, than those who weren’t treated with it. 

However, WHO officials have since asserted that there is no evidence that the drug reduces the mortality in these patients, and the study has since been retracted over data concerns. 

“The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of solidarity trial including hydroxychloroquine,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference 3 June, adding that WHO planned to continue to monitor the safety of the therapeutics being tested in trials involving over 3,500 patients spanning over 35 countries. 

“WHO is committed to accelerating the development of effective therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics as part of our commitment to serving the world with science, solutions and solidarity,” Ghebreyesus said. 

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'Truly sorry': Scientists pull panned Lancet study of Trump-touted drug – National Post

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NEW YORK/LONDON — An influential study that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients has been withdrawn a week after it led to major trials being halted, adding to confusion about a malaria drug championed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Lancet medical journal pulled the study after three of its authors retracted it, citing concerns about the quality and veracity of data in it. The World Health Organization (WHO) will resume its hydroxychloroquine trials after pausing them in the wake of the study. Dozens of other trials have resumed or are in process.

The three authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the dataset for an independent review and they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

The fourth author of the study, Dr. Sapan Desai, chief executive of Surgisphere, declined to comment on the retraction.

The Lancet said it “takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously” adding: “There are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that used Surgisphere data and shared the same lead author, Harvard Medical School Professor Mandeep Mehra, was retracted for the same reason.

The Lancet said reviews of Surgisphere’s research collaborations were urgently needed.

The race to understand and treat the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of research and peer-reviewed scientific journals are go-to sources of information for doctors, policymakers and lay people alike.

Chris Chambers, a professor of psychology and an expert at the UK Center for Open Science, said The Lancet and the NEJM – which he described as “ostensibly two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals” – should investigate how the studies got through peer review and editorial checks.

“The failure to resolve such basic concerns about the data” raises “serious questions about the standard of editing” and about the process of peer review, he said.

The Lancet did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The NEJM could not immediately be reached for comment.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

The observational study published in The Lancet on May 22 said it looked at 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, some treated with the decades-old malaria drug. It claimed that those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

“I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use,” the study’s lead author, Professor Mehra, said in a statement. “For that, and for all the disruptions – both directly and indirectly – I am truly sorry.”

Many scientists voiced concern about the study, which had already been corrected last week because some location data was wrong. Nearly 150 doctors signed an open letter to The Lancet calling the article’s conclusions into question and asking to make public the peer review comments that preceded publication.

Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said the retraction decision was “correct” but still left unanswered the question about whether hydroxychloroquine is effective in COVID-19.

“It remains the case that the results from randomized trials are necessary to draw reliable conclusions,” he said. (Reporting by Michael Erman, Peter Henderson, Kate Kelland and Josephine Mason Editing by Leslie Adler, Tom Brown, Giles Elgood and Carmel Crimmins)

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