The Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, said this Monday afternoon (11) that research on medicines for the treatment of Covid-19 has evolved and they may be an option for the Unified Health System (SUS).
The minister was asked about the possibility of the cocktail of experimental drugs being studied by AstraZeneca to be incorporated into the public system for the treatment of the disease. The British drugmaker announced that the cocktail has been shown to be effective in decreasing severe cases and deaths in patients who have not been hospitalized, but the study has not yet been reviewed by independent scientists.
“Research has evolved. Monoclonal antibodies are an option. There is even the RegenCov, which is a set of two monoclonal antibodies”, said Queiroga when leaving the ministry this afternoon. Monoclonal antibodies are those developed in the laboratory to target a specific region of the virus and neutralize it.
Queiroga also said that the government has always been in favor of a treatment that starts at the initial stage of the disease, but he did not mention the fact that President Jair Bolsonaro has defended, since the beginning of the pandemic, medicines that have no proven efficacy against the disease.
The minister stated that RegenCov, one of the cocktails being studied in the world and which has already been approved by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) for emergency use, has already had peer review published in a scientific journal and has shown to have real effectiveness.
“It came out recently, in a publication in the New English Journal of Medicine, [texto] showing that this medication, when used by individuals who have comorbidities, reduces the outcome with death and hospitalization by just over 70%. And this research is of good quality”, said the minister.
RegenCov had emergency registration approved by Anvisa in April, but it has a high cost to be incorporated into the SUS. That month, Queiroga had said that, if the National Commission for the Incorporation of Technologies in the SUS assessed that there are conditions to implement the use of the drug and the budget for its acquisition, the treatment would be made available to Brazilians.
Queiroga also cited the drug made by the American pharmaceutical company Merck, which this Monday asked the US regulatory agency for emergency authorization to market the pill against Covid-19 produced by it. The minister claimed to have been informed by his executive secretary, Rodrigo Cruz, that the company is negotiating with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) to transfer technology.
“If I’m not mistaken, Rodrigo Cruz was telling me that there is some kind of negotiation with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation for an attempt to transfer technology. We know that vaccination tries to end the pandemic, but it does not have the power to end the disease. People will get sick, and then we have to treat them to prevent them from evolving into severe forms, acute respiratory syndromes and death”, he added.
The minister showed irritation when asked about the use of a mask. This Sunday (10), Bolsonaro was fined in São Paulo for breaking the law that requires the use of masks in the city of Peruíbe, on the southern coast of the state. Queiroga complained that the press asked repeated questions “to keep the same narratives, which no one believes anymore”. The minister stated that it is necessary to “look forward” and to what is being done “in relation to the strengthening of the Unified Health System”.
“In supplementary health, for example, no one asks me, but we have approved a guideline here at Consu [Conselho Nacional de Saúde Suplementar]. First guideline in 20 years approved in the scope of supplementary health. This is more important than these sidelines, sterile and useless. Honestly,” said Queiroga.
The minister was referring to the National Policy on Supplementary Health to Combat Covid-19 (PNSS-Covid), approved last month. Consu has been inactive since 2000, when the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS) was created.