President Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of a malaria drug that he now says he takes daily — and the resulting uproar in the news media — appears to be interfering with legitimate scientific research into whether the medicine might work to prevent coronavirus infection or treat the disease in its early stages.
The drug, hydroxychloroquine, which is also widely used to treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases, has shown no real benefit for hospitalized coronavirus patients, and may have contributed to some deaths, recent studies show. Some bioethicists are even calling for the Food and Drug Administration — which has warned that the drug can cause heart problems — to revoke an emergency waiver it granted in March to accept millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine into the national stockpile for use in hospitals.
But specialists — including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert — say the jury is still out on whether the drug might help prevent infection or help patients avoid hospitalization. Mr. Trump’s frequent pronouncements and misstatements — he has praised the drug as a “game changer” and a “miracle” — are only complicating matters, politicizing the drug and creating a frenzy in the news media that is impeding research.
Read the entire story at The New York Times. Christine Johnston, ICRC/DGH, is quoted.