The pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused substantial disruptions to health services in the low and middle-income countries with a high burden of other diseases, such as malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on malaria transmission potential in malaria-endemic countries in Africa.
With the world still focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes for vaccine rollout, the 2020 WHO global reports on tuberculosis and malaria are timely reminders that these diseases remain two of the three deadliest infectious diseases.
Based on reports of parasite resistance and on World Health Organization recommendation, chloroquine was replaced with the artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) as the first choice of drugs for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. Disuse of chloroquine led to restoration of drug-sensitive parasite to some extent in certain countries. Ever since chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were touted as potential treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), there has been a dramatic surge in demand for the drugs.
The incidence and mortality of COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization reports, shows a noticeable difference between North America, Western Europe, and South Asia on one hand and most African countries on the other hand, especially the malaria-endemic countries. Although this observation could be attributed to limited testing capacity, mitigation tools adopted and cultural habits, many theories have been postulated to explain this difference in prevalence and mortality. Because death tends to occur more in elders, both the role of demography, and how the age structure of a population may contribute to the difference in mortality rate between countries were discussed.
Since 2016 Venezuela has seen a collapse in its economy and public health infrastructure resulting in a humanitarian crisis and massive outward migration. With the emergence of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 at the end of 2019, the public health emergency within its borders and in neighboring countries has become more severe and as increasing numbers of Venezuelans migrants return home or get stuck along migratory routes, new risks are emerging in the region.
COVID-19 has been a threat throughout the world since December 2019. In attempts to discover an urgent treatment regime for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ) have been on solidarity clinical trial. However, many countries have pulled HCQ and CQ from their COVID-19 treatment regimens recently, some countries still continue using them for patients who have previously started HCQ and CQ and they may complete their course under the supervision of a doctor. HCQ and CQ are 4-aminoquinoline drugs and it is safe to use them for autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and malaria as well.
Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) using sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and amodiaquine is an efficacious intervention for protection of children against Plasmodium falciparum malaria during the rainy season. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Malaria Consortium adapted its SMC delivery model to ensure safety of distributors, data collectors and beneficiaries. We conducted a SMC monitoring survey in July 2020 in the states of Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Yobe, with questions on COVID-19 prevention behaviours and symptoms, and belief in misinformation. We investigated the associations between receipt of information on COVID-19 by different sources, including from SMC distributors, and these three outcomes using logistic generalised estimating equations. We also considered moderation of effectiveness of message delivery by SMC distributors and adherence to use of face coverings.
In clinical practice chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are often co-administered with other drugs in the treatment of malaria, chronic inflammatory diseases, and COVID-19. Therefore, their metabolic properties and the effects on activity of cytochrome P450 (P450, CYP) enzymes and drug transporters should be considered into when developing the most efficient treatments for patients.
Artesunate is a safe noncytotoxic drug with low side effects which is used in the treatment of chloroquine-resistant malaria. In addition to being an antimalarial drug, artesunate also has immunomodulatory, anticarcinogenic, and antiviral activity. There are in vivo and in vitro studies reporting that artesunate may have a positive effect on the treatment of COVID-19.
In the absence of a vaccine the medical and scientific community is looking intensely at utilizing a pre or post exposure drug that could decrease viremia. The search for a medication that could reduce risk of serious disease, and ideally of any manifestation of disease from SARS-CoV2, and of asymptomatic shedding of SARS-CoV2 is of urgent interest. Repurposing existing pharmaceuticals is among the approaches to achieve these ends.