FACT CHECK: Does Hydroxychloroquine Cure COVID-19?

VERDICT: No Sufficient Evidence to Shows It Does

Since Monday, July 27, a video of a United States of America-based physician, Stella Immanuel has continued to trend on almost all the online platforms.

The video first published by media outlet, Breitbart News, featured a group of people wearing white laboratory coats calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” at a press conference in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

In the video, Stella, a preacher makes a passionate argument about the use of hydroxychloroquine – a medication used to prevent and treat malaria – to cure Coronavirus disease.

According to the preacher and physician, she has used a combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax (Azithromycin) to treat 350 patients who visited her clinic. 

Stella also argues that hydroxychloroquine cures Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). 

“This virus has a cure, it is called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax,” the woman claims. 

Also, in her claim, the US-based physician said face masks are not needed for the prevention of the disease which has ravaged the globe.

“You don’t need masks, there is a cure,” Stella said.

While Stella’s video has been viewed millions of times and shared by thousands around the world, Facebook has blocked her account for violating its rules.

The video also posted on her channel was also blocked by YouTube.

In a reaction to its action, Facebook said it removed Stella’s account and the videos for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19. 

FACT

In June 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients in the US.

The FDA said that mounting evidence shows the drug provides no clinical benefit and in some cases may cause heart-related complications.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization announced its plan to discontinue the use of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir for the COVID-19 treatment plan. 

The global health agency said it was following the recommendation from the Solidarity Trials International Steering Committee established to find an effective COVID-19 treatment for hospitalized patients.

WHO said findings submitted by the committee show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care.

In a reaction to Stella’s video, Andrew McLachlan, who is the head of Sydney Pharmacy School at the University of Sydney said the physician’s reaction was emotion ridden.

“Passion and anecdote do not provide convincing evidence of safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing COVID-19,”.

“Good evidence to guide practice comes from carefully controlled studies, scrutiny of the results and peer review to ensure findings and claims are robust and correct,” McLachlan said.

Also, with Nigeria being part of the clinical trial on hydroxychloroquine which commenced in March, the Health Ministry warned that the research is yet to show that drug is effective in the treatment of COVID-19.

Also, in June, a preliminary independent trial sponsored by LiveWell Initiative was conducted on the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis for COVID-19, in collaboration with frontline healthcare workers in Nigeria.  

The hypothesis testing was carried out among physicians, researchers, pharmacists and clinicians. 

According to a statement released by the chief executive officer of LWI, Bisi Bright, and published Punch’s HealthWise, 123 volunteers were involved in the study of which 110 were on prophylaxis and 23 on treatment.

Bright concluded that: “Although it has been proven that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in the early treatment of COVID-19, more studies will be needed due to the small sample size deployed while quinine is effective in the advanced stage of COVID-19 including ICU,” she said.

Also, in reaction to the trending video of Dr Stella Immanuel, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control issued a statement cautioning the public. 

The Centre wrote on its verified Twitter account: ‘’Remember, there is NO specific cure for #COVID19. Some trial drugs show promising results but are yet to be validated for use. In Nigeria, the use of hydroxychloroquine is ONLY limited to clinical trials. Please #TakeResponsibility and avoid self-medication.” 

The Centre said there is ample evidence to show that Stella’s claim that the use of a face mask is not needed to prevent the spread of coronavirus is false.

According to NCDC, the wearing of face masks is recommended due to the role played by respiratory droplets in the spread of the virus paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies.

The NCDC said the studies show that cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

CONCLUSION

There is currently no sufficient evidence to show that hydroxychloroquine cures COVID-19 as alleged by Dr Stella Immanuel. 

Also, Stella’s claim that face masks are not needed to prevent the spread of the disease is not scientifically proven.

Information is very important. False information can lead people into taking steps and actions that have grave consequences such as self-medicating on hydroxychloroquine following this viral claim.

The Houston-based physician’s claims conflict multiple studies on the anti-malarial drug and advice from public health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

CDD urges members of the public to always verify all information before disseminating them.

You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter @CDDWestAfrica.

#StopFakeNews #StopDisinformation