Senegal is set to continue administering hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus patients, a senior health official said Thursday, after encouraging results for those treated with the venerable anti-malarial drug.

Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are drugs ordinarily used to treat malaria, but early small-scale studies suggest they reduce virus levels among people badly infected by COVID-19. 

Some countries have rushed to use the drugs but many scientists are urging caution until larger trials show whether they are safe and  effective.

In a televised statement on Thursday, Moussa Seydi, the doctor in charge of treating Senegalese COVID-19 patients, said there was anecdotal evidence that people treated with hydroxychloroquine recovered faster. 

“When it comes to science, observation alone is not enough and extensive research is needed before an opinion can be validated,” he added, also urging people to avoid risky self-medication. 

“But the results we have seen reassure us and reassure my whole team, and we will continue in this direction.”.

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