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So much for Dr. ‘What-Do-We-Have-To-Lose’ Trump’s “like a miracle” cure for coronavirus. To the surprise of nobody with a modicum of common sense, reasonable caution and faith in scientific data, a new study has found that the Fox-and-Trump-touted malaria drug hydroxychloroquine not only didn’t benefit COVID-19 patients, but killed more of them than those given standard care. The largest study yet of hydroxychloroquine, first reported at Military.com, analyzed the records of 368 male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infections at Veterans Health Administration hospitals. Of those given hydroxychloroquineplus usual care, about 28% died; of those getting only routine care, just 11% died. The study also found the hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, and might have damaged other organs – a serious side effect long suspected by doctors. In Brazil, a similar study recently found many patients suffered heart arrhythmia after getting higher doses of the drug, and the project was halted after 11 patients died. On Tuesday, Trump was asked at his rally/briefing about the U.S. results; he claimed ignorance of it along with pretty much everything else before jabbering, “Obviously there have been some very good reports and perhaps this one’s not a good report – but we’ll be looking at it.”
It remains to be seen if the guy who’s failed at selling steaks, shirts, casinos and fascism will nonetheless keep trying to sell what turns out to be a deadly combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin – thanks Dr. Hannity – which Trump has called “one of the biggest game changers,” not just in the fight against COVID-19, but “in the history of medicine.” Despite his always-compelling arguments of “just a feeling – I’m a smart guy” and “What do you have to lose? A lot of people are saying that…,” a panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases just flat-out recommended against using the combination because it “was associated with QTc prolongation in patients with COVID-19” – ie: it increases the risk of sudden cardiac death. Many observers were unsurprised at the results, given the longtime skepticism of doctors and the source of the earlier recommendation. Noted one, “ADDERALL & DIET COKE, taken together, make you suggest unproven medicines during a pandemic.” Others wondered if Trump had time to divest before the bad news came down, and when the mean tweets against his former game-changer would begin. But there was widespread agreement on the next step: Let the rewriting of history begin.
First published in Common Dreams.