Beginning when President Trump declared his fervent hope and faith that (hydroxy)chloroquine would help tame COVID-19, Democrats, both in and out of the media, have waged war against the drug. While they are correct that chloroquine has not been the subject of any full-scale, double-blind studies, they seem to have missed that, during a war, emergency field medicine is a bit different from what happens during peacetime. To the extent COVID-19 is a very aggressive virus that quickly destroys people’s lungs, doctors are having to rely on old-fashioned empirical evidence.
Unfortunately for the Times, the empirical evidence is piling up fast. Some of the evidence comes in the form of individual success stories. The latest success is Michigan State Rep. Karen Whitsett, a young mother, who credits hydroxychloroquine with reducing her symptoms within two hours. Not only does she praise the drug, she praises the president for making it available:
"It has a lot to do with the president ... bringing it up," Whitsett said. "He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority."
Asked whether she thinks Trump may have saved her life, Whitsett said: "Yes, I do," and "I do thank him for that."
Individual doctors are also enthusiastic about the drug’s benefits. On a larger scale, the American Thoracic Society issued guidelines for doctors who want to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for COVID infected patients:
The Thoracic Society said its guidelines are based on input from an international task force comprised of doctors from medical centers that are currently treating COVID-19 patients.
The medical group said evidence about the impact of hydroxychloroquine is “contradictory” but it is worth experimenting with during a public health crisis to treat very sick patients.
“We believe that in urgent situations like a pandemic, we can learn while treating by collecting real-world data,” said Dr. Kevin Wilson, chief of guidelines and documents at the American Thoracic Society.
It’s true that the data is still inconclusive, which deserves serious consideration (especially for those on metformin). Still, as of now, chloroquine is the best we’ve got. And, boy, does that rankle with the Times.
In the Times’ latest attempt to “talk down” chloroquine, the journalists' ill-will to President Trump is on steroids. The article, entitled “Trump’s Aggressive Advocacy of Malaria Drug for Treating Coronavirus Divides Medical Community,” hauls out all of the usual critiques, including Dr. Fauci’s urging caution, Dr. Vladimir Zelenko’s being “a hit on conservative media,” the fact that Zelenko was born in Ukraine, and the Zelenko-Giuliani connection (cue the ominous music).