Didier Raoult

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Person.png Professor Didier Raoult  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(physician, biologist)
Didier Raoult.jpg
Born13 March 1952
Dakar, Senegal

Didier Raoult is a French physician and microbiologist who specialises in infectious diseases.[1]

In 1984, Raoult created the Rickettsia Unit at Aix-Marseille University (AMU), where he is a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine supervising doctoral courses and postdoctoral projects.[2]

Since 2008, Professor Raoult has been Director of the Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE; in English, Research Unit in Infectious and Tropical Emergent Diseases), collaborating with CNRS (National Centre for the Scientific Research), IRD (Research for the Development Institute), INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and the Aix Marseille University, in Marseilles. His laboratory employs more than 200 people, including 86 researchers who publish between 250 and 350 papers per year and have produced more than 50 patents.[3] Raoult has also been involved in the creation of eight startups.[4]

Treatment for COVID-19

On 17 March 2020, Prof. Raoult announced that a trial involving 36 patients from the south east of France supported the claim that Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin were effective in treating for COVID-19.[5][6][7] The French Health Minister, Olivier Véran, was reported as announcing that "new tests will now go ahead in order to evaluate the results by Professor Raoult, in an attempt to independently replicate the trials and ensure the findings are scientifically robust enough, before any possible decision might be made to roll any treatment out to the wider public".[8] In direct reference to the study conducted by Raoult and the possible health ramifications, Véran went on to state:

"Dr Raoult’s study involves 24 people. What kind of health minister would I be if, on the basis of a single study conducted on 24 people, I told French people to take a medicine that could lead to cardiac complications in some people?"[9]

French media also reported that the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi had offered French authorities millions of doses of the drug for use against COVID-19.[10][11]

Supporters

Didier Raoult: "Coronavirus, game over!"

On 24 March 2020, Swiss public health expert Jean-Dominique Michel wrote:

The world's leading expert on communicable diseases is Didier Raoult. He's French, looks like a Gaul out of Asterix or a ZZ Top who left his guitar by the side of the road. He runs the Institut Hospitalier Universitaire (IHU) Méditerranée-Infection in Marseilles, which employs over 800 men and women. This institution possesses the most terrifying collection of "killer" bacteria and viruses in existence, and is one of the world's leading centres of expertise in infectiology and microbiology. Professor Raoult is also ranked among the top ten French researchers by the journal Nature, both in terms of the number of his publications (over two thousand) and the number of citations by other researchers. Since the turn of the millennium, he has studied the various spectacular viral epidemics and has established close scientific contacts with the best of his Chinese colleagues. His achievements include the discovery of treatments (using chloroquine, in particular...) which are cited today in all handbooks on infectious diseases throughout the world.

On 26 February 2020, he published a resounding video on YouTube saying: "Coronavirus, game over!"[12]

The reason for his enthusiasm? The publication of a Chinese clinical trial on the prescription of chloroquine, showing suppression of viral carriage in a few days on patients infected by SARS-CoV-2. Studies had already shown the efficacy of this molecule against the virus in the laboratory (in vitro). The Chinese study confirmed this efficacy on a group of affected patients (in vivo). Following this study, the prescription of chloroquine was incorporated into the treatment recommendations for the coronavirus in China and Korea, the two countries that have been most successful in controlling the epidemic...

Chloroquine has been on the market since 1949. The molecule is widely used as an antimalarial drug. All travellers to tropical countries will remember the Nivaquine tablets (one of its trade names) that were prescribed to them as a preventive measure against malaria. This remedy was later replaced by others for certain geographical areas, remaining in use for some destinations.

Chloroquine has also demonstrated its powerful therapeutic efficacy against most coronaviruses, including the dreaded SARS of sinister memory. The Chinese clinical trial therefore confirmed Raoul’s hypothesis that chloroquine could also be used against the COVID-19.

Detractors

On 26 March 2020, Leonid Schneider wrote:

Coronavirus COVID-19/Pandemic is about to be stopped by a stroke of a French “genius” with a history of publishing manipulated data. The charismatic Didier Raoult, director of the Research Unit in Infectious and Tropical Emergent Diseases (URMITE) in Marseilles has found a cure: the humble chloroquine, cheap unpatented substance used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases lupus and rheumatism. The substance so far failed in all antiviral therapies, but this didn’t prevent Raoult from deciding that chloroquine can cure coronavirus infections, serious side effects notwithstanding. To prove that, Raoult treated 26 patients at his institution with the derivative hydroxychloroquine, alone and in combination with the antibiotic (meaning antibacterial!) drug azithromycine. The study was not randomised, ethically approved only after it already began, and it was not really controlled: the 16 control patients were treated in different clinics.

After some adjustments (patients removed, data points guessed), a preprint was published simultaneously with a paper in a peer reviewed journal Raoult basically controls. Next, a lawyer with whom Rault partnered with pitched the miracle cure to Fox News, which is the TV channel US president Donald Trump watches all day to get all his information. Trump then tweeted this:

"HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains - Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents)....."[13]

Chaos ensued. People worldwide stormed pharmacies and pet shops for chloroquine, some killed themselves with aquarium cleaner, India banned chloroquine export, while national authorities including French government decided to deploy chloroquine as the medicine to treat COVID-19. All based on Trump’s tweets which in turn was based on Fox News promotion of this study by Raoult.[14]


References

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