Covid-19: the questions over French professor who claims a cure

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As the Covid-19 pandemic continues its devastating path across the world, wreaking close to 200,000 recorded deaths from the virus and a global economic meltdown, the only evident hopes for a stabilised return to normal activity lies in a vaccine or a drug treatment to contain its spread. But few believe a vaccine will be realistically ready before, at the earliest, 2021. French microbiologist Didier Raoult has championed an immediately available antiviral compound called chloriquine, previously used against malaria, as a miracle drug that neutralises the virus, receiving the support of US President Donald Trump and last week hosting a visit to his laboratory by French President Emmanuel Macron. But as Pascale Pascariello reports, deep controversy surrounds the work of Raoult, a maverick amid France’s scientific establishment.

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The claims that the anti-malaria drug chloroquine, which is also used for treating auto-immune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, could prove to be successful in treating Covid-19 virus infection have excited interest worldwide, especially in the absence of a vaccine which is forecast as unlikely to appear befoire 2021.