From Iceland — Iceland Expects Huge Shipment Of Anti-Malarial Drug To Fight COVID-19

Iceland Expects Huge Shipment Of Anti-Malarial Drug To Fight COVID-19

Published March 31, 2020

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A shipment of 50,000 packages of the anti-malarial drug Hydroxchloroquine is expected to arrive in Iceland this weekend, RÚV reports. The drug is thought to potentially be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Pharmaceutical company Alvogen has purchased 50,000 packages of Hydroxychloroquine from India and the drug is now being transported to Iceland for use in Landspítali Hospital. The shipment will provide treatment for up to 25,000 COVID-19 patients. The efficacy of the drug in COVID-19 treatments is not fully clear at this point, but Bryndís Sigurðardóttir told Visir that research suggests that patients treated with hydroxychloroquine recover from coronavirus infections more rapidly.

Many other countries are also using Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients including the United States, China, South Korea and Sweden. The World Health Organisation is currently conducting trials of the drug in 45 countries.

Speaking to Morgunblaðið, Guðrún Ýr Gunnarsdóttir, Alvogen’s managing director of sales in Iceland, explained that securing the drug was a “great challenge” because of global competition over supplies. Alvogen has also struggled to get the packages out of the country due to a strict curfew that was recently imposed in India. The Foregin Ministry, the Indian Embassy in Iceland and the ambassador worked alongside Alvogen to ensure the shipment could make its way to Iceland. “We are very pleased,” Guðrún told reporters.

Alvogen was lucky to secure the hydroxychloroquine shipment when it did because India has now banned exports of the drug in order to use its supplies domestically.

Work is underway to develop new drugs to treat COVID-19, but according to Guðrún it could take up to 10 years to complete. In the meantime it is vital that more research is done into the potential efficacy of existing anti-viral drugs like Chloroquine in treating COVID-19.

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

Tune into our daily COVID-Cast for a deeper dive into the day’s developments.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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