To fight coronavirus, Burkina Faso is tempted by chloroquine

By Nadoun Coulibaly
Posted on Tuesday, 31 March 2020 13:59

People ride a motorcycle past the closed Centre International d'Evangelisation in the Dassasgo district of Ouagadougou, as the coronavirus outbreak continues, Burkina Faso March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Wilkins

Faced with the spread of COVID-19, which has already affected more than 200 people in Burkina Faso, authorities have decided to use chloroquine to treat patients.

Two clinical trials will be conducted simultaneously by researchers from Burkina Faso and Benin.

While the council of ministers meeting was held on Thursday 26 March by videoconference, Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré decided to tighten protective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. 207 people in the country had the virus in the country as of 28 March. He declared a health state of health emergency and decided to quarantine the affected cities for two weeks from Friday 27 March.

This measure mainly concerns Ouagadougou, where the majority of those affected are concentrated. Bobo-Dioulasso, the economic capital, and the localities of Dédougou, Banfora, Manga, Boromo, Houndé and Zorgho are also affected.

Clinical trials coming soon

Like Morocco and Senegal, which advocate the use of chloroquine, the authorities have announced two clinical trials of this drug on people with COVID-19. However, Roger Nebié, the director general of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST), told Jeune Afrique on the phone that the first results will have to wait.

“The trial protocols have been completed and must be validated by the ministry of health’s ethics commission. Only then will we actually start the clinical trials,” he explains. It is a formality before trials can start.

According to Alkassoum Maïga, the scienctific research minister, the first trial, called Chloraz, is led by Halidou Tinto, director of research at the Nanoro Clinical Research Unit. The process is being conducted in collaboration with the Muraz Centre in Bobo-Dioulasso and the university hospitals of Tingandogo in Ouagadougou and Sourou-Sanon in Bobo-Dioulasso, the two main centres of infection in the country.

Trial cooperation

“The trial aims to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the use of chloroquine and the chloroquine-azithromycin combination in the treatment of COVID-19 infection in Burkina,” the minister said.

At the same time, Burkina Faso is cooperating with neighbouring Benin, which had also authorised the use of chloroquine for therapeutic purposes. “Both countries are conducting an international clinical trial called Api-COVID-19, which aims to evaluate the clinical and virological efficacy of a herbal drug called Apivirine in patients with COVID-19,” said Maïga. This study is coordinated by a team from the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé, led by Sylvain Ouedraogo, the director of research in pharmacology.

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