The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has ordered the manufacture of Chloroquine for an emergency stock for possible clinical trial treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Chloroquine was reported to function as antiviral at both the entry and post-entry stages of 2019-nCoV infection. It has also recently been reported as a potential broad-spectrum antiviral drug.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
According to her, “In a very recent publication, chloroquine was reported in a press briefing by the State Council of China, indicating that chloroquine phosphate had demonstrated marked efficacy and acceptable safety in treating COVID-19 associated pneumonia in a multi-center clinical trials conducted in China.
“The study involved 10 hospitals in Wuhan, Jingzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Ningbo, and 100 patients. The investigators reported that chloroquine phosphate is superior to the control in inhibiting the pneumonia associated with COVID-19, and shortening the course of the disease.
“Chloroquine was discontinued in Nigeria many years ago for use as antimalarial because of the resistance that the parasite developed against the drug. Therefore, sourcing the raw material – active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) – chloroquine phosphate could be difficult.
“About four weeks ago, I approached a local manufacturing company (May and Baker), a member of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN), whose flagship product in the past was chloroquine to make a batch of the drug for emergency stock. The company had NAFDAC approval for the production of the drug as antimalarial many years ago before the discontinuation.
“The Managing Director expressed possible difficulty in getting the API due to the fact that the drug has been discontinued. He called shortly after that he was able to get the API and was asked to manufacture a batch for emergency stock just in case more people become exposed and infected with the virus. The batch has been manufactured and the company plans to make more batches if needed”.
She further added:
“As stated in my press briefing on March 20, 2020, NAFDAC is giving expedited provisional approvals for the manufacture of any commodities for preventing contracting the disease (sanitizers) and drug or medical device that could be used for the clinical trial testing and treatment of COVID-19 pandemic. The Agency had reduced the 120 working days for approval to 10 days due to the crisis. The products should have been previously reported for clinical trial treatments in reputable scientific journals or technical literature as safe and effective.
“Other researchers in France, US have used the drug for clinical trial treatment of COVID-19 and they reported effectiveness of the drug. Lagos State will be starting a clinical trial on chloroquine to evaluate the effectiveness.
“Chloroquine works by increasing endosomal pH from the acidic environment required for virus/cell fusion, resulting in the inhibition of infection of SARS-CoV.
“It also interferes with the glycosylation of cellular receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. This may inhibit the virus-receptor binding and terminate the infection. The antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects of chloroquine contribute to the efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients.”
NAFDAC, therefore, advises the public to desist from the use of chloroquine without the guidance of a medical doctor or clinician for cases of clinical trial treatment of COVID-19. It has side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, blurred vision, headache and pruritis (itching). The itching can be relieved by using antihistamine. Prolonged use can also cause retinopathy or vision impairment.
Monkeys attack lab assistant, escape with COVID-19 samples
A gang of monkeys attacked a laboratory assistant and escaped with a batch of coronavirus test samples, it has been reported.
The bizarre incident saw the troop of primates launch their assault near Meerut Medical College in Delhi, India.
According to local media, the animals then snatched COVID-19 test samples from three patients and fled.
One of the monkeys was later spotted in a tree chewing one of the sample collection kits, the Times of India reported – adding that test samples from the patients had to be taken again.
It is the latest example of the highly intelligent, red-faced rhesus macaques taking advantage of India’s nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus.
While they have proved an increasing problem in urban areas of the country in recent years, lockdown measures in the last two months have emboldened the monkeys.
Reports have shown them congregating in parts of Delhi normally crowded with humans.
Covid-19: Uganda records 36 new cases toll now 317
Uganda has recorded 36 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 317, the country’s Health Ministry said late Thursday.
Out of the 2,230 samples collected from cross-border cargo truck drivers and communities, 24 Ugandan truck drivers and 12 close contacts of previously confirmed cases under quarantine tested positive for the virus, the ministry said in a statement.
Twenty-six foreign truck drivers, who tested positive at the country’s common border entry points, were handed over to their country of origin, it said.
Out of the 317 COVID-19 cases, 69 have recovered and no one has died of the respiratory disease in the country, according to the health ministry.
FG to use hotels, schools as quarantine, isolation centres
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government would require hotels and school dormitories as quarantine and isolation centres because of a shortage of hospital beds.
The minister noted that there were four levels of COVID-19 patients ranging from those on quarantine with zero or mild symptoms to those that would need to be in the intensive care unit.
The minister said,
“We have sadly recorded 254 deaths, most of them are persons associated with other ailments, confirming the general observation that risks are higher for those with illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and non-communicable diseases.
“We need to continue increasing bed capacity to match the probable number of patients, so that we do not experience horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals.
“In event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 which is quarantine, and level 2, is isolation of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms, to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3 which are moderate to severe cases and level 4 which is for the high dependency and the intensive care unit.
“I, therefore, call on activists and philanthropists to work with state governments to scale up non-pharmaceutical measures and beef up infrastructural assets for isolation and treatment in their states.”
Ehanire said Nigeria would review its participation in the World Health Organisation solidarity trial. He also stated that proposals for trial of local remedies for COVID-19 had been sent to the relevant research and testing agencies for scientific evaluation.
“The Madagascar herbs have been received at the Ministry of Health, and were found to consist of two varieties; one labelled to be for prevention and the other for treatment. Samples have been given to three agencies of the Ministry of Health and also to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“These are normal processes for new preparations to be approved for use in Nigeria, and include toxicological and efficacy tests and clinical trials. Government will investigate all genuine efforts to find homegrown solutions to the pandemic.”
The minister said Madagascar’s drugs had been sent to NAFDAC, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research.
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