Sama voices concern over Chinese – Cuban virus ‘wonder drug’

Several existing drugs, including anti-viral medicines, are currently being trialled worldwide for Covid-19 treatment. Picture: AFP/File/LUCAS BARIOULET

Cuba said their global mission to help fight Covid-19 included the sharing of medicines like an immuno-modulator known as Interferon Alpha-2b.

The South African Medical Association (Sama) has concerns about the introduction of a Cuban and Chinese-developed drug being used to treat Covid-19 patients in those countries.

According to Sama’s Dr Akhtar Hussain, South Africa and other countries were in various stages of scientific experimentation for the treatment of the virus.

But Covid-19 treatment protocols resemble that of the treatment of pneumonia and were working in South Africa, whose recovery numbers were on the rise.

“What is being done to treat patients in South Africa, like in America and England, is based on scientific evidence,” said Hussain.

Hussain said up to 90% of young patients had been able to recover on their own, while most of those who experienced complications or died were older than 60 or immuno-compromised.

Sama was also critical of government’s decision to bring 217 Cuban medical practitioners into the country, when doctors in South Africa were complaining about joblessness, while those working complained of unpaid overtime.

Cuba’s helping hand was part of the South American nation’s efforts to assist 60 vulnerable countries around the world with medical expertise, equipment and medicine.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the doctors brought with them expertise in family medicine, infection prevention and control, case management, regulatory authority, epidemiology and surveillance, as well as health technology and biostatistics.

He made no mention that the so-called “wonder drug” and medicines the Cuban government claimed to have developed together with China had been made part of the South African mission.

But Cuba took to its website to announce that their global mission to help fight the virus included the sharing of medicines like an immuno-modulator known as Interferon Alpha-2b.

Despite not being approved by the World Health Organisation, Interferon Alpha-2b Recombinant was among 31 drugs accepted to treat Covid-19 by China’s national health commission.

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