This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Support for Hydroxychloroquine
While the pro-lockdown camp attempts to discredit doctors who support the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), there seems to be a reasonable body of evidence from authoritative sources supporting its use. The drug has been used in the US for decades to treat autoimmune disease. The FDA originally supported the use of the drug for Covid-19, but later rescinded its endorsement.
The Virology Journal published a paper in 2005 titled, “Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread.” Cell Discovery ran a paper titled “Hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, is effective in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro.” The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) said that the drug had a 90% chance of helping Covid-19 patients.
Dr. Kevin R. Wheelan, chief of cardiology at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas and Dr. Peter McCullough of Texas A&M School of Medicine, “…issued a letter supporting the emergency use authorization (EUA) of hydroxychloroquine for outpatient treatment and prophylaxis for COVID-19.” A group of physicians called America’s Frontline Doctors support of HCQ, which has brought them into conflict with the FDA. Yale School of Public Health epidemiology professor Harvey Risch said the FDA are “making ‘an unconscionable mistake‘ blocking hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients.” Dr. Risch explains that a combination of antibiotics, zinc, and HCQ, can help high-risk patients recover from COVID-19. He confirms what other researchers have claimed, namely, that the drug works best in the early stages of the illness.
In the early stages, according to Dr. Risch, the patient is actually a flu patient, but is at high risk for the disease turning more serious. He even recommends that patients who suspect they have been infected should be treated with HCQ, even before the test results have been confirmed. Dr. Risch’s paper, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) titled, “Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk COVID-19 Patients,” said that hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for high-risk, early-stage covid-19 patients, and can cut the death rate in half. In a CNN interview he said that most healthy young people do not need the treatment.
Used in the US and Abroad
The Henry Ford Health System published a paper in July, also claiming that HCQ could cut the death rate in half. Massachusetts General Hospital, although giving priority to a drug called remdesivir, are also using HCQ on a case-by-case basis. Dr. Joseph Varon, chief medical officer at Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center has given HCQ to at least 100 patients “and the patients have done well.” Dr. Varon, like most of the other doctors referenced in this article, believes that the drug works best if given in the early stages of the disease. He recommends giving it to patients within the first four to five days.
Looking abroad, Turkey has had success in early treatment of COVID-19 Coronavirus with HCQ, claiming that patients generally recovered within five days. Doctors in France are also using a combination of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and azithromycin (AZ) in the treatment of COVID-19, which they found decreased the mortality rate of patients. HCQ is being used by 72% of doctors in Spain, “49% in Italy, 41% in Brazil, 39% in Mexico, 28% in France, 23% in the U.S., 17% in Germany, 16% in Canada, 13% in the UK and 7% in Japan.” These doctors have determined that HCQ is the most effective of the 15 known treatment options.
Challenged, but Not Debunked
Proponents of the drug say that the backlash only came after President Trump’s implied endorsement. Henry Ford Health said that scientific debate was a normal part of the process, but that “Unfortunately, the political climate that has persisted has made any objective discussion about this drug impossible, and we are deeply saddened by this turn of events.”
Dr. Zelenko, in Kiryas Joel, a small, Hasidic village in Upstate New York, used a combination of HCQ, the antibiotic azithromycin, and zinc sulfate to treat early stages of coronavirus. Dr. Zelenko treated 405 high-risk patients with this medical cocktail. This resulted in only 2 patients lost to Coronavirus, 4 on ventilators, and the rest made a full recovery. His conclusions have been challenged on the grounds that he is not a researcher and that he did not do proper documentation for a research project, such as quantifying and defining the population and establishing a control group. Yet, in his practice, he saw the positive results. Didier Raoult, a microbiologist from Marseille, France called HCQ the coronavirus “end game.” His study has been criticized because it was based on only 24 patients.
Doctors in China also published a study demonstrating that HCQ had helped coronavirus patients recover. The study was criticized for not having a control group and so, a second study was done in Wuhan. In the Wuhan study, the drug was given to 31 patients with mild symptoms, 25 of whom improved, as opposed to 17 of 31, in the group that did not receive the drug.
Mainstream Media Impeding Research
Twitter and Facebook have been praised for their censorship of supposedly misleading or false coronavirus information, including silencing the voices of doctors and researchers supporting HCQ or opposing masks and lockdowns. Twitter censored “…Donald Trump Jr. for posting hydroxychloroquine misinformation amid coronavirus pandemic.” A video was removed from social media that featured a doctor supposedly falsely claiming hydroxychloroquine is a ‘cure’ for COVID-19. While none of the research above claims that coronavirus is a cure rather than a treatment, it seems a breach of journalistic neutrality for a headline to say that the claims are false.
Several of the studies that claimed to have debunked the use of HCQ were flawed in that they were terminated early, meaning that their conclusions against the use of the drug were not supported by their research. “Many doctors who understand the science and the threats to validity in the HCQ literature continue to prescribe HCQ appropriately ‘off-label’ to COVID-19 victims at home, in senior centers, and early in the hospital.” The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons believes so strongly in the HCQ treatment that they are now suing the FDA for access to the drug.
Dr. Jon Giles attempted to do a clinical study on the effectiveness of HCQ, but once mainstream media had vilified the drug, patients were unwilling to participate. This raises much larger questions about which drugs can and cannot be tested. While the evidence presented by the doctors and research institutions above may not be conclusive, it certainly suggests that HCQ may provide some promise and should be subjected to testing. In fact, any doctor or institution who rejects the drug at this point is doing so without proper testing. Outright rejection of HCQ is a product of the media. And that seems irresponsible.