The United States has delivered 2 million doses of controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and will be sending 1,000 ventilators to Brazil amid the CCP virus pandemic, the White House announced May 31.
“The American and Brazilian people stand in solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus,” the White House said in a joint statement with the Brazilian government.
Hydroxychloroquine will be used as preventative treatment for nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals. It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who contract the CCP virus, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus.
In a continuation of the two countries’ longstanding collaboration on health issues, the United States and Brazil will also launch a joint research effort, including randomized controlled clinical trials, to test hydroxychloroquine’s safety and efficacy as a preventive measure and early treatment of the virus.
“Going forward, the United States and Brazil will remain in close coordination in the shared fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing regional response to safeguard public health, further limit the spread of the coronavirus, advance the early development of a vaccine, and save lives,” the statement added.
President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have spoken twice since March, according to the statement, and the two countries are “well-positioned to continue their work together to address the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to other matters of strategic importance.”
The joint statement comes just days after the World Health Organization (WHO) said it is temporarily halting a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for treating CCP virus patients, due to health concerns.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing on May 25 that the organization’s trial of the drug, which has been touted by some as a promising preventive measure or therapeutic for COVID-19, would be put on hold for a safety review.
“The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed,” the WHO chief said at the virtual briefing.
Tedros said the other arms of the trial remain unaffected by the suspension, adding that “this concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19.”
In his remarks, Tedros referred to recent research published in medical journal The Lancet, which linked hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related drug, with an increased risk of mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients and an increased frequency of irregular heart rhythms.
However, The Lancet on May 29 issued a correction to the study after more than 100 scientists and medical professionals raised questions about the integrity of data analyzed in the study and subsequently wrote an open letter to its authors and the editor of The Lancet. The letter listed 10 major concerns, including that data from Australia allegedly did not match with government reports.
In its clarification on Friday, the medical journal said that one hospital self-designated as belonging to the Australasia continental designation should have been assigned to the Asian continental designation but noted that the results of the study remained unchanged.
President Trump and his administration have been pushing for the use of hydroxychloroquine, which he has previously called a “game changer” in the fight against the virus.
Trump himself announced earlier this month that he was taking the drug to prevent the virus, following consultations with the White House physician. The president has repeatedly tested negative for the virus.
Brazil is being hit hard by the CCP virus this month as it has counted almost 500,000 confirmed cases. At least 27,878 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Reuters contributed to this report.