No, Mefloquine is not a proven Medication

Arshaluys Barseghyan


On April 11 some online media wrote that the most effective treatment against Coronavirus has been found. In some cases, the headlines contained the words Thank God and finally.

The info was spread by hraparak.am, Irakanum.am, armday.am, ipress.am, yn.am, mediaroom.am, as well as informative.am, newstvarm.ru, razvlekawka.ru.

The info lead says, “Russian scientists announced that the most effective medication against Coronavirus had been discovered. It completely blocks the infection development.”

The primary source of the info was the statement disseminated by Russian Federal Medical and Biological Agency.

This center was restructured in 2004, upon the order of Russian president Vladimir Putin. This institution headed by Veronika Skvortsova functions under the authority of the Ministry of Health of Russian Federation. She has been Russia’s Minister of Health for almost 8 years, up to January, 2020.

According to the statement, the antiviral activity of Mefloquine (recommended for the treatment of the new Coronavirus infection) has been assessed in the framework of the research conducted by FMBA Farmzaschita research center, with the participation of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Central Research Institute.

The Armenian online media translated Skvortsova’s clarification in the following way, “It has been proven that Mefloquine completely inhibits the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in cell culture, in a concentration of 2 mg/L. Such a concentration is formed in blood plasma when the medication is taken in therapeutically effective doses.”

Mefloquine and other medications

Mefloquine is a medication used to treat malaria. Euvdisinfo.eu fact-checking platform published a review about Mefloquine being considered a drug against a new type of coronavirus, qualifying that info as disinformation. The claim is based on the info published by World Health Organization, stating that to date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Euvsdisinfo.eu refers to the already-checked Coronavirus-related disinformation disseminated from Russia, stating that it is a part of pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign. The same article sums up the refutations about other medications preventing or treating COVID-19 (zinc, vitamin C and others) suggested by Russian outlets.

Meanwhile, some inaccuracies were found in the Euvsdisinfo.eu refutation about Mefloquine. The article, particularly, claims that it has been considered as a drug against a new type of Coronavirus in several countries. However, the attributed articles (livescience.com, bbc.com, euronews.com) are not about Mefloquine but other malaria-treating medications, such as Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine. The authors of the articles warn of the dangerous side effects of those drugs.

Chloroquine is used in Armenia

At a press conference on April 10, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan reminded that Chloroquine has long been used in Armenia. “It is prescribed, taking into account all the contraindications. Also, a patient signs an informed consent,” Torosyan explained.

The minister clarified that the medication’s effectiveness and side effects had been also assessed by local experts. That’s how he explained its implementation,

“The treatment of new diseases often requires an approach that may be different from standard protocols because the final way of treating is not clear, and this refers not only to Chloroquine. There are also antiviral medications that are not directly indicated for the treatment of Coronavirus but are still being used by doctors. Then, the results are assessed, and we make a decision whether our doctors should continue applying them, or not.”

It turns out that to date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new Coronavirus. However, other medications are used for its treatment. As for the Mefloquine effectiveness, it has been confirmed only by the Russian agency, and not the World Health Organization.

Follow this link [AM] to be informed about the COVID-19 treatment developments.

Arshaluys Barseghyan

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