The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned Nigerians against consuming chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, to prevent or treat coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

This warning comes on the heels of United States president, Donald Trump, announcing that the drug had been approved by his country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the virus.

FDA Commissioner, Dr Stephen Hahn, has since denied such approval, stating clearly that the effectiveness of the drug is still being tested in a clinical trial.

Despite the FDA's denial, Trump's pronouncement has led to a mad rush for chloroquine in Nigerian pharmacies, even though it had been previously banned in the country.

In a post on its official Twitter page on Friday, March 20, 2020, the NCDC warned Nigerians to not engage in self-medication, and to wait for directives from health workers and authorities.

"@WHO has NOT approved the use of chloroquine for #COVID19 management. Scientists are working hard to confirm the safety of several drugs for this disease.

"Please DO NOT engage in self-medication. This will cause harm and can lead to death," the agency pleaded.

Moments after the agency's warning, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) announced that it was approving the production of chloroquine for clinical trials.

The agency's director-general, Mojisola Adeyeye, urged Nigerians to desist from using chloroquine as an anti-malaria drug because of the resistance that has been proven to develop in the past.

She said, "In the case of Chloroquine, it has been demonstrated in the literature and with clinical research which is still ongoing, that chloroquine is superior to the placebo.

"NAFDAC is not approving chloroquine as a product that has can be used for coronavirus because there is no submission to us for registration. But because it is under clinical trials, NAFDAC approves medicines meant for clinical trials.

"Right now, we have asked one company to make a batch of Chloroquine for the purpose of clinical trial."

The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye [First Reports Online]
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye [First Reports Online]

Nigeria currently has 10 active cases of coronavirus, all in Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti. The country's first two cases have recovered, with one already discharged and the other also set to be released if he tests negative a second time.

Since coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019, over 250,000 people have been infected, and at least 10,000 killed around the world. More than 88,000 people have also recovered from the virus.