Group pushing for hydroxychloroquine treatment under probe, says Vergeire

Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan at Flatten the Fear event. Photo: Flatten the Fear/FB
Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan at Flatten the Fear event. Photo: Flatten the Fear/FB

A group pushing for alternative means to treat COVID-19 may face possible sanctions for violating the quarantine, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said today.

Doctors in last week’s Flatten the Fear event, including former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez Tan, urged the government to use hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19. Used against malaria, the controversial medicine has been promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump despite its unproven efficacy.

Read: Philippines suspends use of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients

In the event, the doctors were seen speaking inside what appears to be an airconditioned ballroom sans masks. When asked why they weren’t wearing any, one of the doctors said it was not necessary because they were taking hydroxychloroquine.

Vergeire said that the event has already been flagged to the Department of Interior and Local Government, which is probing the incident.

“When this was reported to us, we were able to relay it immediately to the Department of Interior and Local Government. They are now investigating it. Whatever appears from their findings, necessary sanctions should be meted out,” Vergeire said, who also reminded that all forms of mass gatherings are prohibited.

“Second, we saw that almost all of them did not wear masks. This is a violation of the pandemic guidelines that we have released,” she said.

Read: Overkill? Parañaque resident fined for doing laundry in front yard without face mask

Vergeire also rejected the group’s suggestion to the government of using hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19.

“This could leave harmful effects on our countrymen. Let’s remember that all recommended medicines for this disease, all of them have to undergo the regulatory process, [and] experts need to examine [all treatments] before we can say that they are safe and can treat COVID-19,” she said.

The Philippines has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with 286,743 cases as of yesterday, including 229,865 recoveries and 4,984 deaths.




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