Source: Morocco World News

Zemmouri believes 78% of Europe’s coronavirus-related deaths could have been avoided if European states had mirrored Morocco’s hydroxychloroquine strategy.

Rabat – Jaouad Zemmouri, a Moroccan scientist and president of the Starklab industrial innovation company in France, believes Morocco’s use of chloroquine and its derivatives proved life-saving for the country’s COVID-19 patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on June 17 that the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) “arm of the Solidarity Trial to find an effective COVID-19 treatment was being stopped” because the medication does not “result in the reduction of mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared with standard of care.” 

The decision, however, does not “apply to the use or evaluation of hydroxychloroquine in pre or post-exposure prophylaxis in patients exposed to COVID-19.” In other words, HCQ may be appropriate as a preventive treatment or in the first stage of infection. 

The move aligns with the position of French scientist Didier Raoult, who Zemmouri believes made it abundantly clear that the anti-malarial medication is most effective in treating COVID-19 when used immediately after contamination. 

Zemmouri, who is also a professor at the University of Lille in France, emphasized that Western clinical studies targeted the effectiveness of HCQ in the hospitalization phase. 

“Professor Raoult has been repeating that hydroxychloroquine is useless for hospitalized patients, but [efficient] in the first days of [infection],” Zemmouri said.

While WHO only recently came to this conclusion, countries like Morocco have been heeding the instructions of Raoult since introducing hydroxychloroquine into their COVID-19 treatment options. 

The drug is a driving force behind Morocco’s 82.5% recovery rate and a “low fatality rate” of 2.1%, and highlighted that Europe’s failure to properly administer the treatment cost thousands of lives. 

Jaouad Zemmouri

The hydroxychloroquine controversy

In March, Raoult announced results from clinical trials showing a 100% COVID-19 cure rate thanks to HCQ, a chloroquine derivative: “Despite its small sample size our survey shows that hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin.” 

Raoult also challenged the study published on May 22 in the scientific journal “The Lancet.” The study linked the use of chloroquine to a greater risk of death in COVID-19 patients, a conclusion the French expert called “delusional fantasy.”

Raoult’s findings generated debate and controversy around the world, but he doubled down on the study, saying, “I’m not going to change my mind because there is a messy study done with Big data that tells something else, regardless of the newspaper in which it goes.”

While countries like the UK describe HCQ as “useless” against COVID-19, world leaders such as US President Donald Trump — who called the drug a “game-changer” and began taking it daily as a preventive treatment — are some of the drug’s biggest advocates.

Morocco’s ‘life-saving’ relationship with hydroxychloroquine 

As the world was embroiled in a debate about the side effects of using hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 patients, Morocco asserted itself as in favor of the drug, a position Zemmouri believes saved thousands of lives in the North African country.

Morocco uses HCQ in accordance with the recommendations of the French expert, but the country has stressed its use of the drug and its derivatives is a “sovereign decision” based on consultations with the Technical and Scientific Commission of the National Program for the Prevention and Control of Influenza and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections.

Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb declared on May 27 that the drug helped prevent mass deaths in Morocco. He said that while opinions on the matter may differ, “chloroquine is involved in viral inactivation [of the virus],” and announced Morocco will continue to administer it to COVID-19 patients regardless of the global controversy.

Now that WHO has affirmed hydroxychloroquine could be effective soon after contamination or as a preventive treatment, Moroccan experts believe chloroquine and its derivatives will continue to be used in COVID-19 treatment around the world. The director of University Hospital Center Ibn Rochd, Moulay Hicham Afif, said the use of the anti-malarial drug will expand in several countries such as China, the US, Tunisia, and France.

Zemmouri believes approximately 78% of Europe’s coronavirus-related deaths “could have been avoided” if European countries had applied the “same hydroxychloroquine strategy as Morocco.” 

Comparing Morocco’s clinical COVID-19 response to that of Europe, the Moroccan scientist said Morocco has 10,079 confirmed cases and 214 deaths against more than 2.5 million infections and 174,438 deaths in Europe.

Zemmouri said the difference in numbers left him “perplexed.”

“It would not be incomprehensible that European officials would not consult their Moroccan counterparts to learn. If Europe repeats the same mistake, we can no longer say that it is [a surprise] … it would become criminal.”

Jaouad Zemmouri

Zemmouri acknowledged that the epidemiological situation in Morocco is improving, but the country is “far from being clear of the pandemic.” However, he is hopeful Morocco will be able to effectively manage “possible new waves of the virus.”





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