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Fact Check: Is there a cure for coronavirus yet?

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A pharmacist processes granules to treat coronavirus at a hospital in Lanzhou, north-west China. Photograph: Fan Peishen/AP


A Twitter post claims that a cure has been found for the novel coronavirus by a doctor named Ismaila Sarr.

This is clearly false and misleading. Till date no cure has been found for the virus.

The misleading tweet was published on Saturday, February 29, 2020 and it has since generated over five thousand retweets and has over fifteen thousands likes.

“BREAKING: A cure for the coronavirus has been found by Dr ismaïla Sarr,” the tweet reads.

The Twitter account handler asked people to follow the account “to stay updated.”

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Claim from a parody Twitter account

The twitter account is fake. It is a parody of a US news and world report handle, Spectator Index.

While the correct Spectator Index tweets from @spectatorindex, the parody account tweeted from @spectaatorindex.

Also, the supposed doctor, Ismaila Sarr, that the tweet attributed the claim to is a Senegalese professional football player and never a medical doctor.

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Sarr plays as a winger for Premier League club Watford and the Senegal national football team. He was the hero on Saturday, scoring twice and made the third goal assist to end Liverpool unbeaten record.

The account handler may have chosen the name, Ismaila Sarr, as it was trending on Twitter at the time.

The account biography also states that it is a parody account. The tweet has however been taken down.

Is there a cure yet?

The answer is still NO. The novel virus has killed almost 3000 people worldwide and infected more than 83,000 in dozens of countries including Nigeria as of Saturday, according to the World Health Organization.

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Although, much about the virus remains unknown, and the danger could intensify as it spreads through the rest of the world, government officials and medical organisations have said though the virus can be deadly, the vast majority of those infected so far have only mild symptoms and make full recoveries.

After the outbreak began at the end of 2019, scientists and drug companies are racing to develop and test treatments and vaccines that address COVID-19. Researchers are also working on vaccine development that can help prevent the virus.

The scientists began to evaluate “the antiviral efficiency” of existing drugs on COVID-19. They tested several drugs, including chloroquine and remdesivir, which could block SARS and MERS in cells and in mice.

The scientists said in a paper published on February 4, 2020, that the drugs were tested against “a clinical isolate of 2019-nCoV in vitro” (outside the human body).

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“Our findings reveal that remdesivir and chloroquine are highly effective in the control of 2019-nCoV infection in vitro,” the scientists wrote. “We suggest that they should be assessed in human patients suffering from the novel coronavirus disease”, they added.

More mild patients but no treatment yet

Of the 44,672 coronavirus cases that were confirmed in China by Feb. 11, more than 36,000 — or 81 percent — were mild, according to a study published recently by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Also, the only confirmed victim in Nigeria, according to the authorities, is clinically stable.

Incredibly, all 16 infected patients in Vietnam were discharged from hospital and declared cured as of Wednesday.

For the past 15 days, including on Friday, the government also detected no new cases of infections, the last one having been reported on February 13, even as a village north of Hanoi remains under a 20-day lockdown.

“There’s no medication for this virus yet. We rely on fundamental principles,” Nguyen Thanh Long, deputy minister of health, said at a news conference in Hanoi in early February, after 10 cases were reported.

Healthcare workers have been instructed to follow some protocols to assess the infection and the level of severity.

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First, the doctors are required to treat the symptoms, like fever. Second, the patients are placed on a strict, nutritious diet.

The third step, according to Nguyen, is to closely monitor the oxygen saturation level in the blood of the patients.

While efforts were made to eliminate infections behind hospital doors, Vietnam has also suspended classes, extending school breaks to protect students. Millions of students in 63 cities and provinces in Vietnam have not been back to school since the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebration.

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