The U.S. news media appeared to be on a singular mission to take down a particular coronavirus treatment drug for no other reason that Trump touted it: Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).
CNN seemed to have a vendetta against the drug with consequences for the well-being and lives of Americans everywhere be damned.
- In May: “Yet another study shows hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work against Covid-19”
- In June: “Trump said he took hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus, but new study shows that doesn’t work”
- In July: “Another study finds hydroxychloroquine does not help Covid-19 patients”
- Also in July: “Hydroxychloroquine also doesn’t help Covid-19 patients who aren’t hospitalized, new study finds”
- Later in July: “Fauci says hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating Covid-19”
Then came August. That is when a study mentioning HCQ flew underneath the radar for months. It features the use of the afore-mentioned drug, Hydroxychloroquine, alone and in combination with Azithromycin.
It was cited as published in the American Journal of Medicine… drum roll please… on January 1st.
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The American Journal of Medicine published the journal article “Pathophysiological Basis and Rationale for Early Outpatient Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Infection.” The study claims the following:
For the ambulatory patient with recognized early signs and symptoms of COVID-19, often with nasal real-time reverse transcription or oral antigen testing pending, the following 4 principles could be deployed in a layered and escalating manner depending on clinical manifestations of COVID-19-like illness11 and confirmed infection: 1) reduction of reinoculation, 2) combination antiviral therapy, 3) immunomodulation, and 4) antiplatelet/antithrombotic therapy. Because the results of testing could take up to a week to return, treatment can be started before the results are known. For patients with cardinal features of the syndrome (ie, fever, body aches, nasal congestion, loss of taste and smell, etc.) and suspected false-negative testing, treatment can be the same as those with confirmed COVID-19.11 Future randomized trials are expected to confirm, reject, refine, and expand these principles. In this article, they are set forth in emergency response to the growing pandemic as shown in Figure 1.
In the chart below, it mentions optional HCQ & Zithro treatment:
It then states the following, specifically about Hydroxychloroquine:
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is an antimalarial/anti-inflammatory drug that impairs endosomal transfer of virions within human cells. HCQ is also a zinc ionophore that conveys zinc intracellularly to block the SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which is the core enzyme of the virus replication.21 The currently completed retrospective studies and randomized trials have generally shown these findings: 1) when started late in the hospital course and for short durations of time, antimalarials appear to be ineffective, 2) when started earlier in the hospital course, for progressively longer durations and in outpatients, antimalarials may reduce the progression of disease, prevent hospitalization, and are associated with reduced mortality.22, 23, 24, 25 In a retrospective inpatient study of 2541 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, therapy associated with an adjusted reduction in mortality was HCQ alone (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.34, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25-0.46, P <0.001) and HCQ with azithromycin (HR = 0.29, 95% CI 0.22-0.40, P <0.001).23 HCQ was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1955, has been used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide since then, is sold over the counter in many countries, and has a well-characterized safety profile that should not raise undue alarm.25,26 Although asymptomatic QT prolongation is a well-recognized and infrequent (<1%) complication of HCQ, it is possible that in the setting of acute illness symptomatic arrhythmias could develop. Data safety and monitoring boards have not declared safety concerns in any clinical trial published to date. Rare patients with a personal or family history of prolonged QT syndrome and those on additional QT prolonging, contraindicated drugs (eg, dofetilide, sotalol) should be treated with caution and a plan to monitor the QTc in the ambulatory setting. A typical HCQ regimen is 200 mg bid for 5 days and extended to 30 days for continued symptoms. A minimal sufficient dose of HCQ should be used, because in excessive doses the drug can interfere with early immune response to the virus.
This is a technical way of saying: Yes, hydroxychloroquine, when prescribed by a qualified physician, can be effective in the early treatment, including outpatient treatment, of COVID-19.
So, why would this study from August only be cited as published in January in the AJM journal? And where has the media coverage of such vital developments? Through September, this is what the CDC said about HCQ:
Although federal guidelines now recommend against using hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19, dispensing policies and restrictions vary significantly by state.
So, why didn’t the press push this study harder so that the use of HCQ might be used to save more lives? Maybe there is more to the coronavirus story that has to do with politics than just the “science.”
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.