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WHO suspends COVID-19 chloroquine treatment trial

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A FEW weeks into solidarity trial of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has suspended the process.

It hinged its decision to temporarily halt the test trial of the drug on safety concerns.

This is based on a report published by Lancet, which indicated that more people are dying from the use of the drug to combat the pandemic.

Announcing the decision in an online briefing on Monday, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

“As you know, more than two months ago, we initiated the Solidarity Trial, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19.

“On Friday, the Lancet published an observational study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalised.

“The authors reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.

“The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally.

“The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular, robust randomised available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug.

“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.”

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by United States President Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The U.S. President has said he was taking the drug to help prevent infection.

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Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies programme, said the decision to suspend trials of hydroxychloroquine had been taken out of “an abundance of caution”.

Over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3,500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries.

Five states – Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – have signed up to participate in the WHO’s solidarity trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19.

The WHO also warned that countries, where coronavirus infections are declining, could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak.

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The world is still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, WHO emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan told an online briefing, noting that while cases are declining in many countries, they are still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa.

Ryan said epidemics often come in waves, which means that outbreaks could come back later this year in places where the first wave has subsided. There was also a chance that infection rates could rise again more quickly, if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon.

“When we speak about a second wave classically what we often mean is there will be a first wave of the disease by itself, and then it recurs months later. And that may be a reality for many countries in a number of months’ time,” Ryan said.

“But we need also to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.”

He said countries in Europe and North America should “continue to put in place the public health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory and we don’t have an immediate second peak.”

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Many European countries and U.S. states have taken steps in recent weeks to lift lockdown measures that curbed the spread of the disease but caused severe harm to economies.

The WHO boss added:

“The other arms of the trial are continuing. This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19.

“I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria. WHO will provide further updates as we know more. And we will continue to work night and day for solutions, science and solidarity.”

 

News

COVID-19 cases in Nigeria hits more than 30,000 with 460 new cases

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The  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced 460 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 30,249.

Also, the death toll from the virus has hit 684, as 15 new deaths were reported on Wednesday.

There was a drop in the number of confirmed cases reported Wednesday compared to what was reported on Tuesday (503).

The health agency in a tweet said the 460 new cases were reported in 21 states including Lagos, Rivers, Oyo, Delta, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Anambra, Kano, Plateau, Edo, Bayelsa, Enugu, Osun, Kwara, Borno, Ogun, Kaduna, Imo, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, and Adamawa.

All the reporting states already had at least a case of the virus.

As of the time of reporting, all 36 states and the FCT have recorded at least a case of the disease.

Lagos State remains the epicentre for the disease with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the country, while Zamfara has not reported any new confirmed case in the past 51 days.

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The other five states with the highest number of confirmed cases are FCT, Oyo, Edo, Delta, and Kano State.

The 460 new cases were reported from 21 states: Lagos – 150, Rivers – 49, Oyo – 43, Delta – 38, FCT – 26, Anambra – 20, Kano – 20, Plateau – 18, Edo – 14, Bayelsa – 13, Enugu – 13, Osun – 12, Kwara – 10, Borno – 8, Ogun – 7, Kaduna – 6, Imo – 4, Bauchi – 3, Gombe – 3, Niger – 2 and Adamawa – 1.

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General

COVID-19: Adamawa Govt fixes Aug. 4 for schools’ resumption

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The Adamawa Government has fixed Aug. 4, 2020, as the resumption date for students in primary six, as well as Junior  Secondary Schools (JSS) and Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) students that will be writing their terminal examinations.

This is contained in a statement signed by the State Commissioner for Education and Human Capital, Mrs. Wilbina Jackson, and made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Yola.

Jackson in the statement said,  “In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic the ministry wishes to inform parents and relevant stakeholders that  education must strive under all conditions.

“Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri has directed that the resumption date for the  2019/2020  Academic session in the state for the existing students in Primary six, JSS3  and SSS3 is Aug. 4, 2020.

“Subsequently, resumption is to be observed strictly within the necessary COVID-19 preventive guidelines as outlined by the  NCDC,” she said.

She listed the guidelines to include:  frequent and proper handwashing with soap or rubbing of hands with alcohol-based sanitizer, use of face masks, and maintaining physical and social distancing.

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“And in view of that, the ministry will liaise with critical stakeholders for smooth resumption,” Jackson said.

She called on traditional rulers, religious leaders, and other stakeholders to educate their wards and communities over the development.

The commissioner also advised proprietors of private schools to liaise with the ministry for guidance and direction before opening their schools.

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Nigeria Update

JUST IN: Nigerian striker Onuachu contracts COVID-19

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Paul Onuachu

Super Eagles striker and international player Paul Onuachu has tested positive for coronavirus.

The results of his compatriots Stephen Odey and Cyril Dessers at Belgian club Genk, came out negative.

The 26-year-old Nigeria international is the first Eagles star to test positive for the virus that has caused sporting events cancellations and suspensions across the globe.

“In the run-up to the first exhibition game of the season, the entire Genk group was tested yesterday (Tuesday),” a report on Belgian website hln.be stated.

Everyone tested negative except Onuachu.”

The 6ft7in striker left Belgium for Nigeria on May 27, alongside fellow Eagles strikers Victor Osimhen and Imoh Ezekiel and returned to his club June 28 after he was stranded for a week in Lagos due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Onuachu becomes the second Nigerian footballer to contract the virus after Akpan Udoh, the first footballer to be infected, in February.

Pianese forward, Udoh, 22, was born in Italy to Nigerian parents and began his youth career at Reggiana, before moving to giants Juventus, where he failed to play a competitive game for the Old Lady.

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According to hln.be, Onuachu will miss Genk’s first exhibition game of the season against Eendracht Termien on Thursday (today) as he will be quarantined for a week.

Onuachu’s COVID-19 status has however raised concerns within the Genk squad as he had trained intensively with the rest of the squad for more than a week now.

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Onuachu joined Genk from Danish club FC Midtjylland last summer and scored 10 goals for the club before the Belgian Pro Division season was ended abruptly due to COVID-19.

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