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It’s premature to use it now, says Telegraph’s health columnist

The crave for a possible cure for the Coronavirus pandemic assumed a new dimension yesterday, when Nigerians residing in the United States and the United Kingdom began calling their relatives and loved ones to buy Chloroquine and send to them.

The development, according to Saturday Telegraph investigation, has already started having its own ripple effect as most pharmaceutical stores and outlets, complained of an unusual demand for the drug in anticipation to curing the dreaded virus.

The mad rush, it was further learnt, was occasioned by a directive on Thursday by U.S. President Donald Trump that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), should investigate whether an existing drug given to malaria patients (Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine drugs) can also be used to treat the novel Coronavirus. The report stated that the drugs would be used in a clinical trial, according to FDA commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, who spoke during the press briefing. Trump also said other antiviral medications would be fast-tracked for FDA’s approval. However, it was also gathered that most relatives who spoke to Saturday Telegraph confirmed that there had been scarcity of Chloroquine tablets and hand sanitizers in some outlets visited across the state. A source, who has a friend in Scotland confirmed the development to one of our correspondents.

He said: “ On Thursday night, my friend who lives in the UK called me and begged me to buy and send five packs of Chloroquine to him. He said he had also called some of his siblings to do the same. Hye promised to send the money into my account yesterday. But before I woke up yesterday, the same guy called me to confirm he had sent the money and urged me to quickly get the drug. I quickly left home and when I visited about five drugs, I could not get. Surprisingly, most of the stores I visited said they exhausted their stocks between Thursday night and early Friday morning.”

When Saturday Telegraph visited some of the pharmacies yesterday, it was learnt that there was shortage of Chloroquine as some of them revealed that the drugs was packed on Thursday evening and early yesterday morning.

In the same vein, Nigerians have stormed several drug stores and pharmacies to buy the drugs . One of the products by M&B 2-2-1 was priced at a pharmacy at Agbele area of Abule Egba, Lagos, with the salesman assuring one of our correspondents that if our correspondent wanted 10 cartons of it he would surely get them.

But 30 minutes later, the s ame sales man said someone came to buy the remaining 15 cartons. Visit to other five pharmacies around the same axis revealed that the product had been cleared off the shelf in less than 24 hours. Another of the product that our correspondent bought at N150 per sachet, Elanquine, skyrocketed to N500 in the space of one hour with the sales boy claiming that out of about 30 cartons available in the morning, just one carton was remaining when one of our correspondents visited his store. Same applied to hand sanitizer as none of the big malls and supermarkets selling in the past currently have any in their stock.

On Wednesday, our correspondent bought a bottle of sanitizer at the Abule Egba branch of Justrite with cartons of the product available, however, getting to the same place on Thursday and Friday, none was available again. Same ap-plied to other malls like Addide, Jendor and some other supermarkets. Meanwhile, multipleaward winning medical practitioner, Dr. Adegboyega Oderinde, yesterday lent his voice to the controversy surrounding the use of Chloroquine for the cure of coronavirus, saying it was still under trial.

In a chat with one of our correspondents last night, Oderinde said Trump’s announcement of the use of Chloroquine was actually unethical. Oderinde said: “He (Trump) should have waited for the drug trial to be seen to conclusion. The FDA should have been the one to make that announcement because of ethical considerations involved. “That’s not foreclosing the fact that it may eventually be the drug of choice.

But it’s premature to use it now because it does not have “preventive” potential. “People should be calmed and observed strict Hand hygiene and Respiratory hygiene. These are scientifically verifiable facts(for prevention). A lot still remain unknown about the Covid-19 because it’s still evolving. “Let us deal with facts and not fears! I repeat CQ may eventually be the treatment choice but we should wait for the supervising authority to make this pronouncement. If the scientific facts suggests that it’s preventive as well so be it but before then, do not take CQ. If it eventually passes the trial as treatment. It will surely be made available at treatment centres.”

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