In the complex context that is the Covid-19, things happen as if the professor Didier Raoult had a bodyguard made up mainly of Africans. The burkinabe, Senegalese, Tunisians, Malians, Central africans, Moroccans, Algerians... A dozen nationalities from countries of the South to enrich its teams at the university hospital institute Méditerranée Infection, Marseille (IHU Méditerranée Infection). And Africa the lion's share. Among them, the doctor from burkina faso Lamine Ouedraogo, who has been, for the French president Emmanuel Macron during his visit to the IHU, April 9, 2020, a sort of guide, next to Didier Raoult. "The professor Raoult makes no difference from the outset between its employees. The most important thing for him, it is the work, " says Sara Bellali, young Casablancaise 27-year-old, the moroccan site H24. She landed in Marseille in 2015, as a student, in the team of professor Raoult. Today, it is one of the first scientists in the world to have observed the Covid-19, well before the global pandemic, and to take a photograph of the electron microscope in the laboratory of the IHU.
Read also Didier Raoult, at the crossroads of Africa and the science
Raoult : a personal and scientific with Africa
Born in Senegal in 1952, Didier Raoult does not leave indifferent. It is considered by some as a world leader in the field of infectious diseases which deserves the Nobel prize, by others as a druid, a guru and even a charlatan. In Africa, he comes to inherit the nickname of " Chloroquine Dundee ". Due to a post-dated to April 11, 2020 in which the professor recalls that he was "born to Dakar" and he has always " a link with Africa ", with the bonus of a photo where he appears in a tank top black sleeveless, wearing a safari hat with the edges raised, an image that truly reminds of the Crocodile Dundee of africa. It does not take the researcher to strengthen his rating on the continent, he who praises the merits of a treatment based on chloroquine, an antimalarial drug used for seventy years in Africa, to fight against the Covid-19.
But, if the infectiologist may appear as an original character, it has made the IHU Marseille a war machine of world renown. Founded in 2011, the university hospital institute employs 780 people to fight against infectious diseases, including the three killer diseases : HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
The lookouts african for the IHU Méditerranée Infection
The institute relies on relays in Africa. Based in Dakar, the team "infectious diseases, persistent and emerging in West Africa" of the IHU, high of 21 researchers, is driven by the Senegalese Cheikh Sokhna, a biologist specialist of the malaria trained at the university Cheikh-Anta-Diop of Dakar. Installed, on its side, at the École nationale supérieure vétérinaire d'alger, the team " vectors and disease vector in the Maghreb, made up of 16 scientists, is led by the Algerian Idir Bitam.
Read also Coronavirus : Algeria adopts the chloroquine for severe cases
More discreet, Idir Bitam is no less influential in his country. The teacher-researcher at the École nationale supérieure vétérinaire d'alger is also an adviser to the Institut Pasteur of Algiers, a representative of the ministry of Health and head of the scientific research at the ministry of higher Education.
In its relay in Africa, professor Raoult, it also supports less direct, such as the many fellows passed by the IHU and working on the continent or, in Senegal, professor Moussa Seydi, head, centre of infectious diseases hospital Fann in Dakar. Responsible for the care of all patients in Senegal, this infectiologist 56-year-old has the ear of the senegalese president Macky Sall. And he has made the choice to use chloroquine to treat his patients using the "Senegalese" Didier Raoult.
Read also Hydroxychloroquine : clinical trials suspended by the WHO
Dakar, Algiers, Ouagadougou..., the IHU professor Raoult has many scientists who are colleagues lookouts on the continent. © ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP
A protocol taken in Africa, but are now challenged
The chloroquine, this molecule not expensive, known to almost all African countries, is a miracle pill when you have so many health systems on the continent are failing. With Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Algeria, or Morocco to administer chloroquine to patients Covid-19, the effects of which are still highly disputed in the rest of the world...
" We have seen no benefit from hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine (when they are used alone or in combination with a macrolide) on the results of hospital when they are initiated early after the diagnosis of Covid-19 ", concluded the eminent scientific journal, the british Lancet in a study made public on may 22. In the aftermath, the 25th may, WHO has been suspended " temporarily ", and by the voice of its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the ongoing clinical trials on the hydroxychloroquine in order to properly assess the potential benefits or possible adverse effects of this medicine.
The Pr Raoult persists and signs
Sure of himself and always so direct, Didier Raoult reacted strongly. "How do you want a study half-assed made with the big data exchange-what we have seen on the ecg ? [...] I'm not going to change your mind because there is a publication that tells something else, regardless of the journal in which it happens ", has pestered the director of the IHU Marseille. For the moment, support for the africans remain loyal to the countries and the countries of the continent who have made the choice to hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat their patients have not changed their protocol to fight against the Covid-19. Will they keep the same line ?
Read also Covid-19 : the choice to be a double-edged sword of chloroquine by Africa