Desperate times, desperate measures. Anthony Fauci has been warning lately that we need to wait for clinical trials to know if hydroxychloroquine is effective against coronavirus, but there’s simply no time. New York City is in the thick of an outbreak right now. There’s anecdotal evidence from China and France that the drug helps. What’s more, the clinical trials are progressing slowly due to a (surprising) dearth of volunteers.
There are many thousands of patients in NYC right now clamoring for relief. Doctors have no answers. Hydroxychloroquine is already on the shelf as a treatment for rheumatological disorders so it’s safe for human consumption (in appropriate doses). It’s a cinch that doctors will administer it on nothing-to-lose “compassionate use” grounds. But if they’re going to do that, why not turn it into a true drug trial and start tracking the results systematically instead of just dosing it out haphazardly? You have thousands of “test subjects.” If the drug is effective, it’s a gamechanger for the whole world. Let’s collect the data.
So that’s what they’re going to do, with unheard-of speed. Per WaPo, this isn’t a clinical trial (no one’s getting a placebo, obviously), it’s an “observational trial.” Doctors are going to give out the drug freely and carefully chart what happens. In a few weeks we’ll have meaningful numbers about doses, survival rates, effectiveness at different stages of the disease, and so on. Normally it takes nine months or so to arrange something like this; New York’s rolling it out in three days. The clinical trials, I take, it will merely end up confirming what doctors in New York City discover first.