Debate heats up over using an anti-malaria drug for COVID-19
The battle of the optimists vs. the realists is also spreading to other countries. Here is what both sides are saying.
Trump and members of his administration are growing emphatic in promoting an anti-malaria drug not yet officially approved for fighting COVID-19, even though scientists say more testing is needed before it’s proven safe and effective against the virus.
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The administration's promotion of the drug comes after a heated Situation Room meeting of the White House's coronavirus task force on Saturday, in which Navarro challenged the top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, over his concerns about recommending the drug based only on unscientific anecdotal evidence.
Navarro, who has no formal medical training, erupted at Fauci, raising his voice and claiming that the reports of studies he collected were enough to recommend the drug widely. . . .
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. . . Small, preliminary studies have suggested [the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine] might help prevent the new coronavirus from entering cells and possibly help patients clear the virus sooner. But those have shown mixed results.
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Navarro told Fox News Channel's “Fox & Friends” that doctors in New York hospitals are already giving out the drug to COVID-19 patients and that health care workers are taking it in hopes it will protect them from being infected. . . .
“The media is trying to blow it up as a big big debate. . . ," Navarro said.
Asked about his credentials for pushing the drug, Navarro cited his doctorate in social science.
“. . . If it saves lives, that’s a beautiful thing ... I think history will judge who’s right on this debate. I’d bet on President Trump’s intuition on this one.” [Navarro said].
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“There’s a study out there that says people that have lupus haven’t been catching this virus,” Trump said at a Saturday briefing on the virus. “You know, maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. ... There’s also other studies ... that the malaria countries ... have very little of this virus.”
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Administration officials say Trump's embrace of the drug stems from his desire to provide “hope” for the American people as the death toll mounts and he looks to avoid political consequences from the outbreak.
Some limited studies have been conducted on the use of hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin in concert to treat COVID-19, but they have not included critical control groups that scientists use to validate the conclusions.
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At least one other world leader has followed on Trump's claims to promote the use of the drugs. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. He said he heard reports of 100% effectiveness when administered in the correct dosages, zeroed tariffs for import of the drugs and on March 30 announced army labs were ramping up their chloroquine production. On Sunday, he shared a video on social media of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani interviewing a doctor who claimed he has successfully treated hundreds of coronavirus patients with the drugs.
Brazil’s health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who has led the nation’s virus response and endorsed broad isolation measures, said on April 3 that initial tests of chloroquine’s efficacy remain “fragile.” Still, he announced the government would broaden criteria for the drug’s use in “grave” cases. Previously, it had only authorized its use in “critical” cases.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death."
I would add one thing to the concluding paragraph above.
COVID kills younger people and those without severe illnesses also.
I don't mean to depress anyone unduly, but I just cannot pretend that there is no general widespread danger out there as some Trumpers want to believe.
And most assuredly I do not trust Trump's "intuition"--which some of his followers treat as some kind of mystical connection with some otherworldly/all-knowing source. That's fairy-tale talk.