Published on : 03/23/2020 – 17:50Modified : 03/23/2020 – 17:50
Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, could help treat individuals infected with Covid-19. A European clinical trial is launched. For Christian Perronne, head of the infectious diseases department of Garches hospital, it should be used now.
A European clinical trial to evaluate four experimental treatments to fight against the coronavirus has started in France, announced Sunday March 22, the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).
Called “Discovery”, it notably includes chloroquine, a treatment against malaria which obtained promising results during a study carried out on a reduced number of patients in Marseille. But it is causing debate within the medical community. In addition to chloroquine, the trial should evaluate remdesivir, lopinavir in combination with ritonavir, the latter being with or without interferon beta. In its French section, the trial will include at least 800 patients with severe forms of the coronavirus.
“We know this product can work”
Christian Perronne, head of the infectious diseases department at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Garches, says he is already using these treatments. “But the problem is that stocks are very limited. There aren’t a lot of drugs available, which is a shame. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are the most active,” he said on the of France 24.
“Professor Raoult’s team did a very preliminary study, but on 24 patients, it is still quite convincing. This shows the reduction of the virus in the patient’s secretions. We hope that this will slow down the spread,” explains he referring to the research of Didier Raoult, the director of the Institut hospitalo-universitaire (IHU) Méditerranée Infection de Marseille. The latter explained that he had conducted a clinical trial in which he had treated people infected with the coronavirus with chloroquine. After six days, only 25% of patients who took this drug still had the virus in their bodies, according to this specialist. In contrast, 90% of those who had not taken chloroquine continued to carry Covid-19.
For Christian Perronne, it is therefore possible to use this treatment today. “I fully agree with the authorities and my colleagues on the fact that studies must be continued to find this in more depth. What I am asking is that today, the factories that manufacture the hydroxychloroquine, turn day and night to provide millions of treatments for patients who are isolated in their hospitals today and who do not have antiviral therapy. We know that this product can work and will probably prevent many people don’t go into intensive care. “
Potential side effects?
Faced with some who are alarmed by potential side effects, this doctor at the Garches hospital wants to be reassuring: “There are millions of people who have taken it a few times for years for chronic diseases. I don’t see where is the hesitation for a single second. Besides, it doesn’t cost much and it’s easy to make. “
“And above all we are going to give it to people who are hospitalized and under surveillance. People have made unfounded noises about all this. I recognize that for the moment the scientific demonstration is not perfect, but that’s how it is , we are at war, we have to go “, adds Christian Perrone.
“I do not see the point of waiting another two or three weeks to say that it is worth it. It is now because the sick arrive in their hospitals and they die. In any case, the most fragile people” , he insists.
No recommendation for hydroxychloroquine except for severe forms
The Minister of Health Olivier Véran, for his part, announced that the High Council of Public Health had recommended not to use hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial which would have given results, “in the absence of a recommendation, to the ‘exception of severe hospital forms by collegial decision of doctors and under strict supervision “.
“Finally, the High Council excludes any prescription […] in the absence of any evidence. According to this opinion from the scientists, I will take a decree in the coming hours to regulate the use outside of the classic marketing authorizations for hydroxychloroquine, which will therefore be accessible to hospital medical teams who wish to do so, “he added. Monday at a press point.