French Professor Didier Raoult has recently published a paper that champions the effectiveness of the controversial hydroxychloroquine as treatment against coronavirus. Raoult conducted a study at his research institute in Marseille, according to La Presse. The study has since been met with much criticism by other members of the medical community.
Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment to combat COVID-19 has been the centre of much debate around the world, since the pandemic began.
"Hydroxychloroquine [derived from the antimalarial chloroquine, NDLR] combined with azithromycin [an antibiotic, NDLR], administered immediately after diagnosis, is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19," concluded the study in a brief prepublication that was presented to French President, Emmanuel Macron. The President travelled to Marseille to visit the institute last Thursday. The full study has yet to be released to the public.
Raoult, who has been a defender of hydroxychloroquine for some time, administered the treatment for "at least three days," to a total of 1061 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Just over nine out of ten patients (91.7 percent), showed zero signs of carrying any viral load, just 10 days after receiving the treatment. Of the 1061 patients, five died who were aged between 74 and 95 (0.5 percent). The study says that the percentage is "significantly lower" than it was for "patients treated with other regimens." The study also note that, "no cardiac toxicity was observed."
This isn't the first time that Professor Raoult has published studies that praise the effectiveness of this treatment, however they are always met with a great deal of criticism from his peers. The main critique of his last study was that the sample size of tested patients was too small.
The most recent study had a much larger sample size which other scientist had to acknowledge however some still criticized the way the study was carried out, claiming that there is no evidence to infer that hydroxychloroquine, "prevents the worsening of symptoms and prevents the persistence of the virus and contagiousness in most cases,” as the study concludes it does.
"Unfortunately in the absence of a comparative arm [control group receiving a placebo], it is extremely difficult to know whether the treatment is effective or not," said Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist from the Pasteur Institute. Fonanet is also a scientific advisor on COVID-19.
"These results are just null and void, it does not tell us anything about the effectiveness of treatment," said Catherine Hill, another epidemiologist. She too has been critical of the absence of a control group. Hill also pointed to public data that shows that at least 85 percent of people will recover without any treatment.
Half of the COVID-19 positive patients at hospitals in Senegal are being treated with hydroxychloroquine,. Greece has also began to reproduce the substance. Morocco has announced that they plan to administer the drug to patients with confirmed cases, and Algeria said they will be issuing it for acute cases.