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US sends unproven virus drug to Brazil

China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-02 11:13
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Cassia de Almeida, an ICU nurse who was hospitalized with severe symptoms of COVID-19, waves to her colleagues after being discharged in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday. [RAHEL PATRASSO/REUTERS]

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WASHINGTON-The United States has supplied Brazil with two million doses of hydroxychloroquine, known as HCQ, for use against the novel coronavirus, the two governments said on Sunday, despite warnings about risks associated with the anti-malaria drug.

The White House released a joint announcement on the drug, whose use has been touted both by US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, days after the World Health Organization suspended testing it on COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns.

Trump himself said in mid-May that he was on a regimen of HCQ as a preventive measure, even though the US Food and Drug Administration had issued a warning about its use for COVID-19 patients.

"The American and Brazilian people stand in solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus," the statement said. "We are announcing that the United States Government has delivered 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the people of Brazil.

"HCQ will be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil's nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals against the virus. It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected."

The two countries will also conduct a joint research effort that will include "randomized controlled clinical trials", the statement said, adding that the US would soon send 1,000 ventilators to Brazil.

Brazil on Sunday said its nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases had reached 514,849 after 16,409 people tested positive in the latest 24-hour period, while the death toll neared 30,000.

Fourth highest

Its death toll rose to 29,314, the fourth highest in the global pandemic after the US, the United Kingdom and Italy, after 480 deaths had been reported since Saturday, while another 4,208 deaths are still being investigated for any linkage with COVID-19, the country's ministry of health said.

The US had reported 1,790,191 cases by Sunday, with its death toll at 104,383, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In the US, where protests over the police killing of George Floyd have raged for a week, public officials throughout the country warned of the risks of more coronavirus infections that could be triggered by these large gatherings.

Meanwhile, testing centers in Los Angeles have been closed due to safety concerns amid the nationwide protests.

In addition to the coronavirus fears sparked by the raging protests, some also pointed to the role the epidemic has played in pushing people out in the streets to vent their anger.

"It's not a coincidence the unrest happens in the midst of a pandemic," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at his daily news briefing on Sunday. "People have lost their jobs. They are isolated at home. People are stressed and worried."

Also on Sunday, Mexico's Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said that the country reported 3,152 new cases in the latest 24-hour period, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 90,664.

There were 151 new deaths in Mexico, taking total fatalities to 9,930, Lopez-Gatell added.

Meanwhile, Chile's COVID-19 cases increased by 4,830 to reach 99,688 on Sunday.

In the latest 24-hour period, 57 more patients died, the highest number of fatalities in a single day so far, taking the death toll from the disease to 1,054.

A lockdown is in effect in the capital Santiago and the metropolitan area through June 5, as the region is the epicenter of the country's outbreak.

In recent weeks, Chile has seen an exponential rise in the number of cases and deaths, leading the government to set up field hospitals to deal with the growing number of patients.

Xinhua - Agencies

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