This is right on the cusp of self-parody in how he takes adverse information, i.e. the discouraging VA study on hydroxychloroquine from a few weeks ago, and reflexively spins it into a plot by some shadowy “enemy” to embarrass him.
When did the VA join the deep state?
He’s a day away from accusing Obama of having engineered the coronavirus in a lab and set it loose to help Biden win the election.
“It was a Trump enemy statement” — Trump dismisses doctors who have warned about possible bad consequences of hydroxychloroquine and insists he knows better pic.twitter.com/CiyTtOBJlu
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 19, 2020
Let’s run through the recent history of hydroxychloroquine trials. There were some small yet encouraging studies from China early on regarding its possible efficacy, but by far the biggest news in HCQ’s favor was the French study in March led by Dr. Didier Raoult that claimed to find remarkable success with the drug in treating COVID-19. Amid all the hype from that result, though, some critics began questioning the study’s methodology; they found enough flaws in it that the journal that published it later admitted that it didn’t meet their standards and shouldn’t have run. That was weeks after Trump had made hydroxychloroquine a global sensation by touting it repeatedly in public appearances as a potential miracle cure.
In mid-April a small French study found no difference in deaths or ICU admissions between coronavirus patients who had received hydroxychloroquine and those who hadn’t. The VA study followed a week later, finding that patients who received HCQ not only saw no benefit but died more often than those who didn’t receive it. A few days after that preliminary data from a study of 22 different New York City hospitals found that HCQ recipients were no more likely to survive than those who didn’t receive it. Ten days ago a separate study of patients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Irving Medical Center also found no benefit from the drug.
Apparently there was a new study published recently in China, which I missed at the time:
A second study saw researchers in China split 150 Covid-19 patients into two groups, one of which received HCQ.
After four weeks tests revealed similar rates of sustained infection among both groups, though adverse reactions to treatment were more common in the HCQ group.
Nor did the severity or duration of symptoms differ between each group.
The jury’s still out. All of the studies done so far were either observational rather than clinical or of sufficiently small scale that we can’t feel too confident about the results. Few if any of them involve patients getting getting a placebo to help doctors compare how those who received HCQ fared by comparison. And Trump’s right that patients who get hydroxychloroquine in these trials tend to be quite sick — which is what you’d expect under the circumstances, when doctors have nothing more efficacious to offer and are hoping against hope that HCQ will save them. Maybe the drug works better earlier in the course of the disease, or as a prophylaxis before people are infected. Until there’s a large randomized clinical trial to disprove it, it remains possible that hydroxychloroquine has some benefit in treating COVID-19.
But there are a lot of “Trump enemy statements” out there right now in this field.
By the way, what is it with nationalist leaders being drawn to hydroxychloroquine? Pundits on both sides in the U.S. have complained about the drug becoming a political football between right and left, but it’s not a purely American phenomenon. Authoritarians the world over have taken a shine to the miracle drug that doesn’t seem to perform any miracles.
Did the strongman union have a secret meeting where they all agreed to back this medication for whatever reason? If Trump was focused on helping himself politically you would think he’d forget HCQ and instead tout remdesivir, which did show effectiveness in a clinical trial, or the good news yesterday about Moderna’s vaccine. Why focus on hydroxychloroquine instead?
Is Conor Friedersdorf right that he just doesn’t understand much of anything about the pandemic?
Here’s Fox News contributor Dr. Manny Alvarez laying into Trump yesterday for promoting hydroxychloroquine, which I think is what inspired the president to tweet last night that Fox News is “no longer the same” and that he’s “looking for a new outlet.” His very next tweet this morning congratulated “Fox & Friends” for beating “Morning Joe” in the ratings.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing editor of Fox News' health news, says that it is "highly irresponsible" for Trump to claim that he's now taking hydroxychloroquine.
He also wants the White House physician to explain what's changed since studies have shown no benefits. pic.twitter.com/QAxYVTM1kG
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) May 18, 2020