FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
PARIS The French government repealed on Wednesday 27 May the exemptions that allowed hospital doctors to prescribe the chloroquine against Covid-19, following an unfavorable opinion issued by the High Council of Public Health which in turn incorporated the results of a vast study published in the scientific journal The Lancet.
Chloroquine an antimalarial discovered in the twenties, then used also for other diseases such as lupus. In France it has become the object of one political and ideological confrontation which starred Dr. Didier Raoult, director of the Marseille Institut Mditerrane, an esteemed virologist but also a controversial anti-system character. At the beginning of the epidemic, when intensive care in France began to fill up with patients, Raoult released a video on Youtube entitled End of game, in which he claimed to have found the cure to defeat the coronavirus: the chloroquine associated with an antibiotic .
Queuing in Marseille
While France, after initial inattention, was hit by the emergency and the government declared confinement, dozens of people lined up in front of the Marseille hospital in the hope of being treated and saved by Raoult. When in doubt, the government allowed chloroquine to be used in hospitals, only for seriously ill patients and by collective decision of doctors, pending more detailed studies to ascertain the efficacy of this drug, said Minister Olivier Vran, immediately skeptical of this therapy.
The French authorities have not wanted to object drastically to a doctor who has a respectable career under his belt, and who over the days has taken on the popularity of a healer, thanks to the unconventional style (long hair, ring with skull). Raoult also played on the historical rivalry between Marseille and Paris, between province and capital, and on the opposition between people and litigation. The virologist became a symbol of the first, praised and defended by the yellow vests, by Marine Le Pen and by the whole intellectual and political world opposed to the government. Eager to show himself close to the citizens, and without prejudice, President Macron went to the Marseille hospital to meet Raoult, a choice that seemed to some to be a concession to populism.
In the world
Raoult’s popularity and cure for chloroquine become planetary, spint by Donald Trump who at the beginning of the epidemic recommended its use – weeks later he would have advised to inject the bleach, however – and that a few days ago the American president revealed that he was taking chloroquine as a preventive measure, as many doctors and nurses do in first line.
In France Raoult and chloroquine have become the symbol of the fight against drug multinationals – that they would have nothing to gain from a medicine that already exists – and against power, with its bureaucratic slowness, its interests and its inability to admit that someone can be successful in science even far from Paris, as he said Raoult himself. In defense of the Marseille doctor, the anti-system philosopher Michel Onfray also entered the field, who called Raoult to be part of his new magazine Front Populaire, a platform of left and right sovereignty for the battle against Macron in view of the presidential 2022 .
In the face of all these political and ideological meanings there are scientific results. The study of the Lancet confirms, after a large-scale clinical trial, the doubts that have always surrounded the use of chloroquine against coronavirus. Not only not effective, but harmful because it causes potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Didier Raoult appeared on television Tuesday evening to reiterate his beliefs, and at a certain point in the interview he pronounced a phrase that reveals much of his attitude: Let’s make a survey between me and Vran (the Minister of Health, ed) and see who wins . On the one hand, popularity and the desire to believe in a miracle cure, on the other, scientific data.
May 27, 2020 (change May 27, 2020 | 11:53 am)
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