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Wed May 20, 2020, 11:07 PM

As virus toll rises, Brazil expands use of unproven drug

President Jair Bolsonaro unveiled rules Wednesday expanding the prescription of chloroquine

May 20, 2020 at 4:08 p.m.

By Diane Jeantet | Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro unveiled rules Wednesday expanding the prescription of chloroquine, the predecessor of an anti-malaria drug promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump, for coronavirus patients despite a lack of clinical proof that it is effective.

Chloroquine was already being used in Brazil for COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized in serious condition, and under the new regulations, it can be given to people with lighter symptoms such as abdominal pain, cough or fever, according to the Health Ministry.

“There is still no scientific evidence, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and worldwide,” Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to a “little flu” and feuded with local governments over their stay-at-home measures, said via his official Facebook page. “We are at war: ‘Worse than being defeated is the shame of not having fought.'”

. . .

Bolsonaro, a conservative populist and nationalist, has long expressed admiration for Trump and enthusiasm for chloroquine. Brazil’s new guidelines were approved by interim Health Minister Gen. Eduardo Pazuello, who had no health experience prior to becoming the ministry’s No. 2 official in April.


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