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Health Highlights: April 7, 2020

Last Updated: April 07, 2020.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Side Effects Have Several Swedish Hospitals Stopping Use of Chloroquine Against COVID-19

The use of the anti-malarial drug chloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients has been halted at several Swedish hospitals due to reported side effects such as cramps and loss of peripheral vision.

Sahlgrenska University Hospital is one of those facilities. It stopped the use of chloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 about two weeks ago.

"There were reports of suspected more serious side effects than we first thought," Magnus Gisslen, a professor and chief physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital infection clinic, told the Gothenburg Post on April 1, Newsweek reported.

"We cannot rule out serious side effects, especially from the heart, and it is a hard-dosed drug. In addition, we have no strong evidence that chloroquine has an effect on COVID-19," Magnus Gisslen said.

No specific drugs are used to treat COVID-19 but some people have advocated the use of the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

U.S. President Donald Trump has touted the use of hydroxychloroquine in particular and announced Sunday that the federal government had stockpiled 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills for the treatment of COVID-19, Newsweek reported.

The use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 was approved last month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, even though scientific studies of the two anti-malarial drugs have yielded mixed results.

For example, one study found they provide no additional benefit to COVID-19 patients who are already receiving antiviral drugs, Newsweek reported.

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Tylenol Shortages in U.S.

Tyelnol is becoming hard to find at some U.S. pharmacies because people are scooping it up in the belief that it can help fight COVID-19, even though there's no firm evidence.

"We are experiencing record high demand for Tylenol, and despite our producing and shipping product at historic highs, we are experiencing a temporary shortage in some regions in the U.S.," said Kim Montagnino, Global Corporate Media Relations Senior Director, Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, CBS News reported.

"We are committed to maintaining our increased production, including running lines up to 24/7 to maximize supply," Montagnino added.

The company is also encouraging stores to limit how much Tylenol people can buy, CBS News reported.

Despite the demand for Tylenol, some medical experts say there's no proof that Tylenol or acetaminophen (Tylenol's main ingredient) is better or safer than ibuprofen for people with COVID-19.

"It's just not true. It is OK to take Tylenol, it is OK to take ibuprofen. There is no association with severity in symptoms or outcome to the virus," Dr. David Agus said on "CBS This Morning" last month.

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California Shares Ventilators With Other States

California will loan 500 ventilators to Nevada, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

Ventilators help keep seriously-ill COVID-19 patients breathing, but are in short supply in the United States.

New York may also receive ventilators from California, but Gov. Gavin Newsom said the federal government would determine the areas most in need of the devices, the Associated Press reported.

"We're very proud to be able to extend a hand of support with those 500 ventilators and send them back east," Newsom said during a news conference. But he added that his state is "not naive" to its own needs and that it needs "to continue to procure more ventilators."

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3M Reaches Deal to Ship N95 Masks to Canada, Latin America

3M says it's reached a deal with the Trump administration to continue exporting N95 protective masks to Canada and Latin America.

The plan is for 3M to make 166.5 million masks over the next three months for U.S. healthcare workers. Most of those masks will come from the company's manufacturing facility in China, the Associated Press reported.

President Donald Trump had ordered a halt to exports of N95 masks, which are crucial in protecting healthcare workers from the new coronavirus, and his move sparked outrage in Canada.

In a statement last week, 3M warned that Trump's decision could have "significant humanitarian implications" for healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America. The company had also said possible retaliation by other nations could actually result in fewer N95 masks being available in the United States, the AP reported.


Previous: Why Will It Take So Long for a COVID-19 Vaccine? Next: As U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Nears 11,000, Signs Show Pandemic May Be Peaking

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