At the end of February, in an exclusive interview for FranceInfo, the director of the Mediterranean Institute for Infection in Marseille, Professor Didier Raoult, was rather optimistic about the use of chloroquine, a drug historically used to fight against malaria:
It's probably the cheapest and simplest way to treat coronavirus...
That's not all, the expert also reassured the public about the accessibility of this treatment:
It is accessible, it is available and there is no need to wait four years for marketing authorisation. It's an absolutely huge opening
This drug had already been shown to be particularly effective on many viruses such as SARS.
In case you're not familiar, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was the first serious and transmissible disease to emerge in the 21st century according to the Pasteur Institute. The major SARS outbreak occurred about 17 years ago back in 2003 and culminated in about 774 deaths. A minute figure compared when compared to the current coronavirus pandemic which has already reached a death toll of over 17,000.
A question arises: What were we waiting for to use this drug that is already so well known? Professor Didier Raoult was transparent to Franceinfo and explained:
We were waiting for clinical trials to report on the efficancy that we were prejudging. Now it's done. We have all the facts. There may have to be adjustments in the dose that needs to be given and the length of time the drug should be administered.
Clinical trials were conducted in Marseille and described as "promising" by government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye.
In order to research and learn more about this remedy, clinical trials have been expanded. However, the results are divisive, to say the least. Even though some doctors in France are currently rebelling and intend to administer chloroquine to their patients, the High Council prohibits, to date, any prescription to the general population.
In a message from the Ministry of Health, it was stated that Chloroquine can only be given to patients suffering from "severe forms" of the coronavirus, but should not be prescribed for "less severe".
The High Council recommends that this treatment should not be used in the absence of a recommendation, with the exception of serious, hospital-based forms, on the collegial decision of doctors and under strict supervision.
We aim to update you on the progression of these studies as research continues and more solid information becomes available.