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The Financial Express

COVID-19 and quackery

Shamsul Huq Zahid | Published: May 21, 2020 23:54:32 | Updated: May 22, 2020 22:00:23


---Photo for representational purpose only ---Photo for representational purpose only

"For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable" is a saying that is attributed to Greek Physician Hippocrates, who is regarded as the father of medicine.

Some people, apparently, encouraged by the saying are found advising or trying untested drugs of both conventional and traditional systems of medicine to defeat the deadly novel coronavirus.

US President Donald is one such very high-profile individual who the other day sent shock waves among his close aides and many others when he revealed that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, for a week and a half to stave off the virus infection.

The US government health officials have been saying that the drug is not suitable for fighting the COVID-19. Rather, it has serious side effects for people with heart ailments.

Mr. Trump, since the start of the pandemic, has made quite many unusual and attention-grabbing comments on coronavirus involving China and COVID-19 treatment.

But it was beyond anyone's wildest imagination that he would resort to such a dangerous experimentation with his own health. He might one day claim that he was feeling 'great' because of taking the malarial drug!

Since no conventional drug has been found effective against COVID-19 until now, many people across the world are found to be prone to falling prey to quackery notwithstanding the fact that such a propensity may prove fatal, in some cases.

Taking advantage of the situation, a section of unscrupulous herbal medicine practitioners has come up with all the hoaxes. For them, the social media has turned out be a handy tool for doing brisk business. However, the craze about herbal remedy, in the meanwhile, has largely subsided, but unauthorised experimentations with the allopathic drugs are still on in many countries. One can still find hundreds of fake cures for COVID-19 on the Youtube.

However, doctors have genuinely tried cocktails of a number of drugs on COVID patients in a some countries, including the USA , China and India. Initial success in some cases had raised hopes, but that was dashed later following disappointing outcomes.

There has been some amount of hullabaloo over the drug Remdesivir, drug manufactured by the US company Gilead Sciences, though the drug can only help in reducing the hospital-stay time for some patients, not fatality rate.

Before the noise over Remdesivir could die down, one doctor at the Bangladesh Medical College (BMC) came out with claim that a cocktail of two drugs---Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, and Doxycycline, a low-priced antibiotic, had worked wonder. He used the cocktail on 40 or so interns of the hospital and all of them got cured within four days!

A section of print and electronic media ran stories on the discovery. A number of online portals from neighbouring India also picked up the news item.

But when pressed by the Bangladesh health authorities, the BMC doctor backtracked, fearing action on account of unauthorised testing of the cocktail drug.

However, actions on the part of Bangladesh authorities, at times, are found to be selective. Influential individuals or businesspersons are seen getting away with their crimes/ offences easily. Only the weak, in most cases, are subjected to all the scrutiny. Finding such instances will not be very difficult.

 zahidmar10@gmail.com

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