22 Apr, 2020
The world’s experience with Covid-19 has exposed the fact that wealthy nations are not necessarily more prepared than poorer ones to deal with a pandemic and they are often too slow to act, French biologist Didier Raoult said.
In a video posted on YouTube, Raoult noted that many of the countries with the highest coronavirus mortality rates are “wealthy countries.” This reveals “a disconnect between wealth and the ability to respond to situations of this kind.”
The difference could lie in how rich and poor countries have chosen to deal with the virus, Raoult believes.
“The rich and developed countries have had less significant results than the poor countries, which chose to treat [Covid-19] like pneumonia with common drugs and which cost nothing,” he said.
Raoult has been at the center of an international debate over the use of the hydroxychloroquine anti-malaria drug which he promoted as a possible treatment for the coronavirus, citing his own small study and some positive experiences with the drug in China.
Faced with a pandemic, the choice is whether to begin treating patients with existing drugs or conduct studies to find new ones.
“If we start doing research which ends when there’s no disease anymore, we can’t fight it,” he said.
“We decided to treat the disease and you got some extremely violent reactions because of this decision,” he said, referring to backlash from other doctors, officials and media.
While Raoult has adamantly defended his approach, there is still no solid evidence that hydroxychloroquine actually works against the coronavirus.
The most recent study was conducted on sick veterans in the US. In that study of 368 patients, which is not yet peer-reviewed, about 28 percent of the Covid-19 sufferers treated with hydroxychloroquine died of the infection, while only 11 percent of those receiving routine care died.
On Twitter, Raoult slammed the US study as “fraudulent” and “fake news.” He said that the patients treated with hydroxychloroquine were already in critical condition.