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Brazil hospital chain secretly gave Covid-19 patients unproven drugs, whistleblowers’ lawyer claims

A Brazilian hospital chain gave unproven Covid-19 treatments to patients without their knowledge, a lawyer for a group of whistleblowing doctors alleged to the country’s parliamentary inquiry on the pandemic on Tuesday. At least nine patients at hospitals operated by Prevent Senior died of Covid-19 while they were unwittingly receiving the experimental treatments, said Bruna Morato, representing 12 anonymous doctors who worked for the health care provider. The company, which also offers private health insurance, has denied all allegations. Morato alleged that Prevent Senior hospitals were used as “laboratories” for studies with so-called “Covid kit,” containing drugs that have been proven ineffective for the treatment of Covid-19, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. These studies were allegedly conducted between March and April of 2020. Patients and relatives were not made aware those drugs were being administered, and Prevent Senior doctors were pressured internally to prescribe and distribute such drugs, Morato also claimed. “Very vulnerable elderly patients were told there was a good treatment, but they did not know they were being used as guinea pigs,” she said. These and other claims are currently being investigated by the country’s Public Attorney’s office and by the Civil Police of São Paulo. The parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) is investigating the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticized at home and abroad for playing down the severity of the virus, discouraging vaccination and mask use, and promoting the unproven drugs. After the alleged studies in March and April of 2020, Prevent Senior began giving the “Covid kit” to patients as a cost-cutting strategy, Morato claimed. “According to reports from the doctors, it was much cheaper to make a set of medications available to patients than to hospitalize these patients,” she said.

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