Foto: Marcello Casal Jr./Agência Brasil

Maria Glória Teixeira’s article – Researcher (ISC / UFBA – Cidacs / Fiocruz Bahia)

In all epidemic situations, populations tend to be anxious and insecure, often nourishing themselves with false hopes, instead of adopting the behaviors indicated by those responsible for public health.

On March 19, the discovery that a drug, chloroquine, proved to be effective in treating cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, was widely publicized by the mainstream media and social media. Although there is some evidence, in laboratory experiments, that hydroxychloroquine has an antiviral effect, including against SARS-CoV-2 (the type of coronavirus that causes Covid-19), it is important to warn the population that the scientific studies available for use in humans, they are still insufficient to indicate the use of this medication to patients affected by Covid-19.

This is the moment for everyone to contribute to reduce the spread of the disease, adopting the protection measures indicated, especially the physical distance from other people and agglomerations, therefore remaining at home and circulating as little as possible. We cannot disperse efforts, attention and resources in misconduct, at the expense of valuing the basics: avoiding new infections. With regard to health services, the struggle of all those involved is to maintain the quality of care to the extent necessary in each moment of the epidemic process.

Despite the fact that the President of the United States announced that he would release chloroquine for use in patients in his country, the top director of the country’s drug regulatory agency said, clearly, that it is still necessary to conduct scientific studies that prove or to refute the initial findings, which still involve few patients, and whose results, although considered promising by some people, should not yet encourage its use in the routine of the protocols for the care of patients with Covid-19.

False hope is leading to a mass rush of the population to pharmacies to acquire and stock the product advertised as effective. In the critical situation that we are experiencing, the best thing we have to do is to avoid mass contamination, instead of being distracted by behaviors advertised as miraculous. We need physical distance and a lot of social cohesion.