By Olasunkanmi Onifade
Nigeria’s Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) has reacted to video claims by Dr Stella Immanuel, that a combo of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax cures COVID-19.
President of GMD, Prof. Olufemi Babalola in Abuja on Tuesday, said Immanuel’s claim is her opinion and is not substantiated by science.
“There is no scientific evidence to prove the claim,” Babalola said.
Immanuel went viral on social media on Tuesday, with the claim that she has treated over 350 patients of COVID-19 with the combo.
Born as a Cameroonian, Immanuel was trained as a doctor at the University of Calabar, in South-South Nigeria. She graduated in 1990.
She has been living in the U.S. practising as a paediatrician.
She also runs a pentecostal Fire Power Deliverance Ministry in Texas.
She surfaced in Washington D.C on Monday, at a news conference held by a group of American doctors under the aegis of “America’s Frontline Doctors”, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
She made what has been described as a bogus claim about the efficacy of the antimalarial drug — hydroxychloroquine, zinc and antibacterial drug — Zithromax, as cures for the coronavirus disease.
The doctors held a two-day “White Coat Summit” at the Capitol Hill to address what they call “massive disinformation campaign” surrounding the virus.
Immanuel, who was joined by other frontline doctors, said she had treated no fewer than 350 patients with hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax.
However, the GMD president stated that research on the efficacy of the combination of Hydrochloroquine (HCQ), Zinc and Zithromax to treat COVID-19 has not been concluded.
“We have watched with dismay the viral video of Dr Stella Immanuel, a doctor in the United States of America.
“The video has been shared all over the country and led to many people justifiably asking the question, ‘What do you think, doctor?.
“The video was part of a news conference held in America.”
Babalola stated that the group was founded by Dr Simone Gold, a board-certified physician and attorney, made up of medical doctors who came together to address what the group termed “massive disinformation campaign” about the coronavirus.
The guild president noted that while some studies suggested that it was effective, others felt otherwise.
“It is true that Senegal, where HCQ is routinely used, has one of the lowest COVID-19 case fatality rates in the world at 0.64 per cent compared to 3.4 per cent in the U.S.
“As we speak, a study is underway at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on its efficacy and safety. Subsequently, a meta-analysis of all these studies should be undertaken to pool all the results and come up with analysis which will guide clinicians.
“So, until then, all anecdotal claims such as the one from Dr Stella Immanuel must be taken with a pinch of salt.”
Babalola stated that HCQ may be a cause of serious complications and even death in some people.
He said anecdotal claims such as the herbal mixture from Madagascar had subsequently been proven ineffective.
He stated that the Guild of Medical Directors is a body of owners of private hospitals in Nigeria “and collectively, we are responsible for the management of about 70 per cent of the healthcare needs of Nigerians.
“So, a lot of the burden in explaining the problem as related to the video naturally falls on us. Therefore, we feel it is pertinent to explain or clarify the issues for Nigerians.
“We must reiterate that Coronavirus is real and COVID-19 is an indiscriminate killer.
“We know from personal experience since it has killed many doctors and nurses all over the country, including our very own Prof. Lovett Lawson.The disease is definitely not a joke.”
Babalola therefore condemned the politicisation of the pandemic, noting that the whole world was actively looking for an effective treatment and vaccine for the disease.
“So, until then, everyone has a responsibility to remain safe and protect one another through the proven ways.
“These are — social distancing, wearing of face mask and frequent hand washing and respiratory hygiene.”