DIRECTOR-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye on Tuesday stated that pieces of evidence from reliable researches and reports showed that Chloroquine can kill COVID-19 virus at the early stage.
She stated that Remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences Inc, has also been shown to kill the virus at late stages.
The NAFDAC boss, however, noted that the cost for treating people with chloroquine was way cheaper than with Remdesivir. Remdesivir cost $2,500 to treat an average patient and Chloroquine is $10.
She also noted that countries in West Africa like Ghana, Togo, and Senegal have also embraced the clinical use of Chloroquine for treatment.
Prof. Adeyeye spoke on Tuesday during a virtual news conference in Abuja.
She said: “In March 20, this year, just before the lockdown, I had a press briefing. At that time, people did not understand what clinical trial treatment meant. Once they hear treatment, they think you can use it anyhow. But clinical trial treatment is a research study to see whether the drug will work or not.
“In the press briefing, I said I was going through literature to see what others have done and I saw in a particular literature a reliable publication of an article about Chloroquine and Remdesivir (that time nobody was even talking of Remdesivir). This was February of this year.
“They said in the cell culture, Remdesivir and Chloroquine killed COVID-19 viruses, that is, invitro – in the laboratory. But you cannot translate that to humans unless a clinical trial is done.
“I kept looking. About two weeks or so later in early March (this was at a time when COVID-19 was at its peak in China); there was a publication where 100 patients were treated with Chloroquine across ten hospitals in six cities, including Wuhan. It said that all of them recovered from the symptoms. They called it that time pneumonia symptoms.
“In the cells, in the lab, Remdesivir and Chloroquine killed COVID-19. At what stage would they be more effective? We didn’t know at that point. Now, we are realising that Chloroquine is effective at the early stage.”
She said she was watching the CNN about four or five days ago and for the first time, Sanjay Gupta, an American neurosurgeon, medical reporter, and writer, mentioned that Chloroquine can be used prophylactically.
The NAFDAC D-G noted: “Remember, Remdesivir and Chloroquine work in the cells. Chloroquine was proven to work in 100 patients. We did not know at that time that the disease has about four phases – pre-exposure stage, early stage, mild stage, and the severe stage.”
Prof. Adeyeye added: “Now we are talking of Remdesivir. We met with Gilead – the maker of Remdesivir about two months ago and they came. They said they have licensed their drug to five Indian companies and one Pakistani company. To treat an average patient will cost about $10 with Chloroquine and cost about $2,500 with Remdesivir.
“When we now got the profile of Remdesivir, what was recorded in literature and from the manufacturer was that Remdesivir doesn’t work at the early stage. It works at the late stage. But when viruses are in the tube in the laboratory, you won’t know which is late or which is early. Both killed them. We now understand that it is not only one drug that can be effective for COVID-19, but it depends on the stage and the phases of the disease.”