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On Wednesday, the Brazilian government encouraged medical professionals to administer hydroxychloroquine to patients with COVID-19 regardless of the severity of their symptoms.
This recommendation was given to doctors in the public health care system, despite the unproven efficacy and the dangerous side effects of the anti-malarial drug.
The endorsement of the drug also comes after the departure of two of Brazil’s health ministers.
Nelson Teich resigned after a month in the role and Luiz Henrique Mandetta was dismissed after clashing with the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro.
President Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for his seemingly cavalier attitude toward the virus which has claimed the lives of nearly 19,000 in Brazil.
When asked by reporters about the country’s death toll late last month, which at that point sat at around 5,000, the president responded with, “so what?”
However, some also agree with the president that the pandemic isn’t worth worrying about. This sentiment is especially prevalent among the wealthy which has led to some undermining quarantine and lockdown regulations.
Bolsonaro’s confidence in the unproven drug is also shared with United States President Donald Trump. Trump’s active promotion of hydroxychloroquine contradicts the medical community who have repeatedly stressed that the drug has shown no real benefit for hospitalized coronavirus patients.
On Monday, the US president claimed that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for a week.
“All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK,” he said.
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