A Cameroon-born and US-based physician Monday claimed that she has found cure to the ravaging COVID-19 that has claimed thousands since its outbreak in November 2019.
Dr. Stella Immanuel speaking at a news conference held by a group of American doctors under the aegis of “America’s Frontline Doctors” in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC listed the antimalarial drug — hydroxychloroquine, zinc and antibacterial drug — Zithromax, as effective cures for the coronavirus disease.
Flanked by seven other doctors, all wearing white lab coats crested with “America’s Frontline Doctors,” Immanuel, who schooled in University of Calabar in Nigeria, said she had treated more than 350 patients with the drugs “and all survived”.
The pediatrician in Texas, United States, in a viral video claimed “you don’t need to wear a mask.”
The video has sparked various controversies since it emerged.
Nigerian Medical Doctors Disclaimed the statement
However, the Guild of Medical Directors, a body of owners of private hospitals in Nigeria, has reacted to video claims by Dr. Stella Immanuel, a General Practitioner in the U.S. that she has treated over 350 patients of COVID-19 with a combination of Hydrochloroquine, Zinc and Zithromax, saying it is her own personal, unsubstantiated claim.
In a statement signed by the President of GMD, Prof. Olufemi Babalola in Abuja on Tuesday, the body said: “there is no scientific evidence to prove the claim.”
The doctors held a two-day “White Coat Summit” at the Capitol Hill to address what they call “massive disinformation campaign” surrounding the virus.
The GMD president stated that research on the efficacy of the combination of Hydrochloroquine, Zinc and Zithromax to treat COVID-19 had yet to be concluded.
He noted that “we have watched with dismay the viral video of Dr. Stella Immanuel, a doctor in the United States of America.
“The video has been shared all over the country and led to many people justifiably asking the question, ‘What do you think, doctor?.
“The video was part of a news conference held in America.”
Babalola stated that the group was founded by Dr. Simone Gold, a board-certified physician and attorney, made up of medical doctors who came together to address what the group termed “massive disinformation campaign” about the coronavirus.
The guild president noted that while some studies suggested that it was effective, others felt otherwise.
He added that “it is true that Senegal, where HCQ is routinely used, has one of the lowest COVID-19 case fatality rates in the world at 0.64 per cent compared to 3.4 per cent in the U.S.
“As we speak, a study is underway at Lagos University Teaching Hospital on its efficacy and safety. Subsequently, a meta-analysis of all these studies should be undertaken to pool all the results and come up with analysis that will guide clinicians.
“So, until then, all anecdotal claims such as the one from Dr. Stella Immanuel must be taken with a pinch of salt.”
Babalola stated that HCQ may be a cause of serious complications and even death in some people, stressing that other anecdotal claims such as the herbal mixture from Madagascar had subsequently been proven ineffective.
He stated that the Guild of Medical Directors is a body of owners of private hospitals in Nigeria “and collectively, we are responsible for the management of about 70 per cent of the healthcare needs of Nigerians.
“So, a lot of the burden in explaining the problem as related to the video naturally falls on us. Therefore, we feel it is pertinent to explain or clarify the issues for Nigerians.
“We must reiterate that Coronavirus is real and COVID-19 is an indiscriminate killer.
“We know from personal experience since it has killed many doctors and nurses all over the country, including our very own Prof. Lovett Lawson.
The disease is definitely not a joke.”
He, therefore, condemned the politicisation of the pandemic, noting that the whole world was actively looking for effective treatment and vaccine for the disease.
“So, until then, everyone has a responsibility to remain safe and protect one another through proven ways.
“These are — social distancing, wearing of face mask and frequent hand washing and respiratory hygiene.”
Ms Immanuel’s speech has since Monday gained traction on social media, becoming one of the top-performing posts on Twitter with more than 14 million views.
The video was first published by Breitbart News, a right-wing medium co-founded by Steve Bannon, a former aide to American President, Donald Trump.
Mr Trump, too, has been an ardent promoter of hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 cure theory, much to the consternation of medical experts.
The video’s ‘virality’ was largely aided by Mr Trump who shared it, with a caption a “must watch,” on Twitter on Tuesday with his over 80 million followers.
But Twitter said it deleted the various versions of the video shared late Monday night by Mr Trump and Breitbart News, having pulled thousands of views and shares.
We’re taking action in line with our Covid misinfo policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told CNN.
Meanwhile, according to Crowdtangle, a data-analytics firm owned by Facebook, the video had been shared nearly 600,000 times. But the microblogging site said it had also pulled down the video.
“We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN, adding that the platform is “showing messages in News Feed to people who have reacted to, commented on or shared harmful COVID-19-related misinformation that we have removed, connecting them to myths debunked by the WHO.”
Also, having beeb viewed more than 40,000 times on video streaming site, YouTube, users attempting to access the video on the site are told the video had been removed for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
According to the Daily Beast, Ms Immanuel has a history of strange medical claims.
For instance, she was reported to have said that fibroids and cysts are caused by having sex with demons in dreams and that alien DNA is being used in medical treatments.
Also, records from the Texas Medical Board also show that Ms Immanuel’s clinic has the same address as the church she founded, Firepower Ministries.
Her sermons, which are hosted on her YouTube Channel, include messages of support for President Trump.