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Jakarta Post

Airlangga University boasts of world's ‘first COVID-19 cure’, but experts urge caution

  • Rizki Fachriansyah
    Rizki Fachriansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, August 16, 2020   /   07:19 pm
Airlangga University boasts of world's ‘first COVID-19 cure’, but experts urge caution Hydroxychloroquine pills sit on a counter at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, United States, on May 20. (AFP/George Frey)

Airlangga Universitry rector Muhammad Nasih has touted the potential coronavirus remedies the university is currently developing in collaboration with several state departments as “the first COVID-19 cure” in the world.

Nasih said that the ongoing research and development – which is being conducted in partnership with the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Indonesian Army – aimed to produce new, effective combinations of existing medicines to ameliorate the symptoms of COVID-19.

“Of course, it will result in a new remedy that is expected to be the first COVID-19 cure in the world,” he told a press conference at the Indonesian Army headquarters in Jakarta on Saturday as quoted by tempo.co.

He said three combinations of medications lopinavir/ritonavir and azithromycin, lopinavir/ritonavir and doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin had already undergone clinical trials.  

“After we combined [different medicines], the rate of recovery [among test subjects] increased sharply. Certain combinations even reached 98 percent efficacy,” Nasih said.

Army chief of staff Gen. Andika Perkasa, who was also at the press conference, said that he would meet with the head of the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) next week to officially request an accelerated approval process for the medications.

Read also: Preventing misleading claim of COVID-19 cure

But Maksum Radji, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Indonesia's (UI) School of Pharmacy, has urged the public to contain their optimism until an official report on the remedies’ efficacy is released.

“The result of the clinical trials has yet to be published in any scientific journals, so it’s difficult to assess the efficacy and risks inherent in the use of the three combinations of medicines,” he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He added that such combinations of medications were not the first of their kind in the world, nor were they new inventions, citing similar developments in several other countries and pointing out that the three combinations had been included on the list of potential COVID-19 remedies currently undergoing clinical trials initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside remdesivir and interferon beta.

“Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine […] are known to have triggered heart abnormalities in certain patients,” Maksum said.

This is not the first time a state institution has claimed to have found a cure for COVID-19. In May, the Agriculture Ministry said it had developed eucalyptus-based coronavirus treatments, including an “antivirus necklace”, before backtracking on the claims last month, following widespread public criticism.