For several weeks now, President Trump has been pushing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure for COVID-19. One minute, he insists the drug will help, then the next minute he admits he doesn’t know, but says you should take it anyway because, according to him, it can’t kill you, and you have nothing to lose.
This is false information, and people have already suffered as a result of this lie. Currently, there is no scientific data to support his claims. Medical researchers will need to carry out many careful clinical trials for several weeks or months before we know if the drug is useful at all against the coronavirus.
According to medical experts, the difference between a safe and a toxic dose of hydroxychloroquine is very narrow. At least one brand has been linked to severe cardiac problems and irreversible damage to eyesight. Since rumors of chloroquine’s effectiveness against COVID-19 have spread, at least one American and two Nigerians have died by self-medicating with forms of chloroquine. Meanwhile, exposure cases more than doubled from March 18 to April 6 this year, compared to the same period last year.
Misinformation has also led to some people to hoard the drug, leading to dangerous shortages for those who actually need it to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Until we know for sure that hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat COVID-19 under a doctor’s supervision, we need to keep this drug on the shelves for those who need it.
Instead, Trump is feeding mass hysteria with misinformation. Is he desperate to look like the man with a plan? Maybe he hopes that will help us forget that most of the mass suffering we’re seeing right now in overloaded hospitals around the country could have been avoided…
… because his administration saw the pandemic coming months in advance and did nothing to prepare.
Featured image: Hydroxychloroquine by Jovan Gec