Trump and those closest to him like his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have been hyping the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus infections, but there's no evidence that it works and mounting evidence that it not only doesn't work; it's actually more likely to kill you.
Researchers in Brazil have now been forced to shut down a clinical trial of the drug because the "primary outcome," they say, is that it kills you.
Their results were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The JAMA study, sponsored by the Brazilian state of Amazonas, tracked 81 adult patients who were hospitalized with Covid-19 and was conducted between March 23 and April 5 at a medical care facility in Brazil. Researchers said 40 patients were given 450 milligrams of the drug twice on the first day and once every day for the following four days. The 41 others were given 600 milligrams twice daily for 10 days, they said. Patients were also given the antibiotic azithromycin, commonly known as a Z-Pak.
By day 13, six of the 40 patients in the low-dose group had died, compared with 16 of the 41 patients in the high-dose group. Heart abnormalities were seen in 11 of the 81 patients. In addition, two patients in the high-dose group experienced ventricular tachycardia, a heart rhythm disorder.
“One can only conclude from this trial that high-dose chloroquine (and by close association, hydroxychloroquine) in combination and azithromycin and possibly oseltamivir, is potentially associated with increased mortality among patients with severe, suspected COVID-19,” Dr. Stephan Fihn of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said in an editorial published alongside the study. He was not involved in the study.
This tracks with a report from earlier this week that patients treated with chloroquine at Veterans Health Administration facilities here in the United States were more likely to die. And not just slightly more likely. Reuters reported that patients who received chloroquine were more than twice as likely to die from the coronavirus with a suggested death rate of nearly 30 percent.
I'm sure most of those participating in these trials have been asked to sign legal waivers of some description, but I can't help but feel like they've been betrayed in any case.
This is happening primarily because Trump was searching for a miracle cure that would quickly vanquish the virus and improve his political prospects, not because there's a substantiated scientific reason for believing it's a viable treatment.
And that's not conjecture. Vanity Fair reported last night than emails exchanged between Trump regime officials show that Trump's personal political appointees pressured other officials into considering chloroquine because Trump wanted them to.
“We have millions and millions of doses of it—29 million to be exact,” he said, as the official tally of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 260,000 and governors across the country pleaded for federal support to acquire tests, ventilators, and protective gear for health care workers. “We’re just hearing really positive stories, and we’re continuing to collect the data.” That evening, according to emails obtained by Vanity Fair, Trump’s political appointees would ramp up the pressure on career health officials to make good on the president’s extravagant promises, despite clear warnings from federal clinicians about the risks and unproven benefits of chloroquine-based treatments for COVID-19. [...]
The emails indicate that the administration’s top health officials were closely involved in a frenzied effort to make unproven chloroquine treatments widely available, even though the FDA’s new emergency rule limited distribution of the drug as a COVID-19 treatment to hospitalized patients.
One of Trump's political appointees, assistant secretary for health at HHS, Brett Giroir, sent one email to a group of other officials to say that the White House called on them to "flood NY and NJ with treatment courses" of chloroquine.
That wasn't based on science; it was based on Trump's whims.
Trump talked to a guy, or saw someone say something about chloroquine on his television, and that was all it took. From one quack's mouth to Trump's ears. Trump is just like your racist uncle or grandpa who believes everything he sees on Facebook, except he's the "president" and has access to information and resources that literally no one else in the world does.