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Marseille

Epidemiologist rips ‘increasingly burdensome verification’

In an interview with a French newspaper, the director of the Marseille University Hospital Institute (IHU), Professor Didier Raoult, defended the effectiveness of chloroquine and said further studies on the drug were just a waste of time.

Published: April 6, 2020, 11:45 am

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    Raoult told Le Figaro that researchers and the French government were wasting their energy on useless studies of the chloroquine molecule: “If the drug kills the microbe, it is because it worked.”

    He said in an interview with the daily on Friday April 3 that when scientific studies entail “increasingly heavy standards of verification,” the evaluation “moved away from the field to become a separate activity”.

    For him, “90 percent of the treatments that have been invented in infectious diseases have never given rise to such studies”. Raoult also named the Nobel Prize in medicine Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who “is not a doctor” but “a researcher”. He believes that they are not “on the same planet”.

    Likewise for the government, the executive should not be “practicing medicine for us,” he said. The state is also mainly responsible for the death rate in the country: “We could not, or did not want to test the maximum number of patients to isolate and treat them. The results are there: we are one of the four countries in which there are the most deaths per million inhabitants, along with Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.”

    There are a few questions about this policy, though. The first thing that had to be done was to “equip hospitals with infectious poles, and in particular test manufacturing units” to identify Coronavirus patients as quickly as possible.

    “Why should I be prevented from giving drugs that are the only ones that seem to be working here and now? We can then conduct a retrospective study”, Raoult explained to Le Figaro. The results are there: “Some 1 003 patients treated at the IHU Mediterranean, and only one died.”

    A second study on 80 patients, showed that their viral load was reduced each time by the administration of chloroquine, noted the specialist.

    Raoult referred to epidemics that had taken place in the past, notably cholera in 1884: “We confined people to stop cholera. And it didn’t work at all.”

    For yellow fever, patients had been quarantined, but the disease was “not contagious from person to person”. However, the doctor believes that quarantine is effective. “Of course you have to separate people who are infected from those who are not. But confining infected people, who do not know it, with others who are not, is a curious method.”

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