The United States has given Brazil two million doses of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to fight COVID-19, the White House said on Sunday, despite the fact that the coronavirus drug has not been shown to be effective.
"HCQ is used as a prophylaxis to defend Brazilian nurses, doctors and health professionals against the virus. It is also used as a therapeutic agent to treat infected Brazilians," said a statement.
The United States would soon send 1,000 ventilators to Brazil, the epicenter of the South American outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases.
"We are also announcing a joint US-Brazil research effort that will include randomized controlled clinical trials," he added.
President Donald Trump is an outspoken fan of HCQ, which has been used for decades to treat malaria and the autoimmune diseases of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
He previously said he was taking it himself, hoping to avoid being infected with the virus.
There is currently no evidence from a randomized controlled trial (RCT), the gold standard in clinical trials, for using HCQ to treat or prevent COVID-19.
There are also fears that this could actually worsen the results of coronavirus patients.
A paper published in The Lancet last week concluded that treating people with Covid-19 with hydroxychloroquine and a related compound chloroquine did not help them and may have increased their risk of irregular heartbeat and death.
The study was not an RCT, and more than 100 clinicians and scientists have since questioned the authenticity of a hospital database on which to base its conclusions.
HCQ has been granted an emergency approval for COVID-19 in the United States for patients with close heart monitoring.
The Food and Drug Administration has asked doctors not to prescribe it far or outside of several ongoing clinical trials.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, like Trump, is an advocate of the HCQ and has fired two health ministers who clashed with him over his desire to expand its use.
Despite the loss of nearly 30,000 people from the virus, Bolsonaro has protested the "tyranny" of barriers and has called for the country's football season to be resumed.
The United States has lost more than 106,000 people to the virus, by far the country with the highest number of deaths.
The World Health Organization announced last week that it would temporarily suspend HCQ tests on COVID-19 due to growing safety concerns, including those raised in The Lancet newspaper.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)