WASHINGTON: At a press conference several weeks ago, President Donald Trump showed optimism after a French study report that the use of the malaria medication hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin are effective in combatting the Chinese flu (COVID-19). The president called the discovery a “total game-changer… I feel good about it.”
“This has been used in different forms… and it’s shown very, very encouraging early results,” said the president. “…we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that’s where the FDA’s been so great… So, we’re going to be able to make that drug available.”
The confused experts
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of Trump’s coronavirus taskforce, was quick to intercede:
“The information that you’re referring to specifically is anecdotal. It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So, you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.”
The French study found the malaria medication acts as a barrier preventing the virus’ spike-like receptors from penetrating and infecting healthy human cells.
The confused Media
But Trump’s faith in the study, and the hope it offered suffering patients, sent the media and medical “experts” into a tizzy.
“Many scientists have criticized the French trial as riddled with enough methodological flaws to render its findings unreliable or misleading. Biostatisticians from the United Kingdom and Ireland cited a basic failure: Investigators didn’t randomize the groups—essential to ensuring dependable comparisons.”
“If Donald Trump wasn’t quite the quintessential snake-oil salesman at a news briefing this week and on Twitter Saturday — touting preliminary and even unproven medical remedies to the new coronavirus pandemic — he came disturbingly close.”
“It’s holding out the promise of hope and optimism to shift attention from the reality of alarming rises in infections, a building economic crisis, a shortage of ventilators, the federal government’s botched coronavirus testing roll-out, and revelations that doctors were told to use bandanas as masks… Is he most dedicated to the national interest and reflecting the true state of the crisis or his own political vitality?”
Banning a cure
In response, the Democratic governors of New York, Michigan, and Nevada issued restrictions on the sale and distribution of hydroxychloroquine. (To Prevent Drug Shortages, AG Grewal Imposes Emergency Statewide Restrictions on Certain Prescription Medications)
According to New York Newsday, demand for the drug “depleted pharmacies… and nearly 10 other states have also limited prescriptions amid reports that some physicians were self-prescribing drugs for themselves, families and friends as well as still-healthy patients.” (Cuomo limits prescriptions for two drugs to active virus cases)
Daytime television host Dr. Mehmet Oz express a decidedly different take while speaking to Sean Hannity of Fox News:
“I suspect there were concerns for the folks with arthritis and lupus, who are dependent on chloroquine and couldn’t get it, theoretically, if people were hoarding it. And I think that was why Gov. Cuomo passed that law – to prevent people from taking it and putting it in their cupboard just in case. I have more confidence in Americans than that… It’s an inexpensive, old malaria drug. We’ll have enough of it eventually. We ought to lift that ban.”
Trump told them so
Now, Chinese researchers are releasing a report saying patients treated with malaria medication showed marked improvement.
According to the New York Times:
“Cough, fever, and pneumonia went away faster, and the disease seemed less likely to turn severe in people who received hydroxychloroquine than in a comparison group not given the drug. The authors of the report said that the medication was promising, but that more research was needed to clarify how it might work in treating coronavirus disease and to determine the best way to use it.
“‘It’s going to send a ripple of excitement out through the treating community,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.”
President Trump’s instincts regarding the old malaria drug have proven more accurate than the “facts” offered by the fake-news media and those overly cautious “experts” they frequently quote in support of their anti-Trump prejudices.
While the media and Democrats accuse Trump of “killing Americans,” the president’s business management skills are proving invaluable in dealing with the current crisis.
All the while, likely Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden serves as an avatar for the president’s critics: cocooned, incoherent, rambling, oblivious to time and space, and – worst of all – irrelevant.
If the president’s handling of the coronavirus crisis is viewed positively by six out of 10 Americans, it’s because Trump and not hydroxychloroquine is the real “game-changer.” (President Trump: Fighting Covid-19 virus like the boss of America)
Top Image: President Trump at a coronavirus White House briefing. ABC News screen capture.