Manzari: WHO Didn’t Approve Any Drugs for Treating COVID-19
In June 2018, Ahmed Al-Manzari was appointed the WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite not occupying the post for long, Manzari faced a multitude of crises due to the region’s poor health systems that have been wracked by conflict.
Manzari, who achieved “great success” in developing the health system in his home country, the Sultanate of Oman, before assuming his regional position, now faces a radical challenge posed by the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Manzari, alongside the WHO, has also been fighting back a lot of rumors spread on social media around the virus.
When asked about the truth behind antimalarial drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine, being used as a cure for the new coronavirus, Manzari expressed growing concerns towards the misuse of drugs with COVID-19 patients.
“This is a worrying situation for us, as there are currently no WHO approved drugs available for treating COVID-19. Another concern is the harmful effect of the use of such (anti-malaria) drugs in terms of drug interactions between different types of drugs and side effects,” Manzari told Asharq Al-Awsat.
As for rumors about a vaccine being developed rapidly, before the end of 2020, Manzari said that developing a vaccine takes years, but that successive health emergencies faced by the world have pushed international efforts closer and strengthened research cooperation.
This, according to the WHO regional director, can speed up the time needed to develop a vaccine and a treatment for the virus.
“Indeed, we were able to develop the Ebola vaccine in much less time, and we are currently working with partners to do the same about COVID-19,” Manzari said.
“To date, the World Health Organization has received requests to review and approve 40 diagnostic tests and 20 vaccines under development, and we confirm that many clinical trials for treatments are already underway, and that all steps and measures that ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of vaccines and treatments are followed,” he added.