South America “is becoming in a certain way the new epicenter” of the coronavirus pandemic, said the director of the Health Emergencies Program of the World Health Organization (WHO), Mike Ryan.
“We see many South American countries that have an increasing number of cases and there is great concern in these countries, but the most affected is Brazil,” said the senior official in charge of the international fight against COVID-19 at a virtual press conference.
Brazil has more than 310,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has exceeded 20,000 deaths.
According to the official statistics that the WHO manages, the cases in the American continent total 2.22 million, of which 1.53 million correspond to the United States and 80,500 to Canada.
After Brazil, the country with the most infected people in South America is Peru, which with 104,000 cases (according to the consolidated figures of the WHO, which the national authorities raise to 108,000) is the twelfth most affected nation in the world.
Regarding Brazil, the country in which he focused his comments, Ryan maintained that the WHO does not support the decision of the Brazilian Government to use chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 because there is no scientific evidence that establishes that It is a safe and effective medicine against this disease.
“The clinical evidence does not support the use of this drug and it is not recommended at least until the clear results of clinical trials are known,” he said.
He added that the investigations of the WHO regional office for the Americas, known as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), have not reached conclusions that would recommend it either.
The Ministry of Health of Brazil published this Wednesday, at the direction of President Jair Bolsonaro, a protocol for the treatment of patients with coronavirus, which covers the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in mild cases.
Chloroquine is a medicine widely known as an antimalarial and to treat rheumatic diseases, and hydroxychloroquine is its derivative (they have the same components), but it is considered to be better tolerated.
Both are part of the group of drugs that are being investigated in many countries as possible cures for COVID-19.