Hydroxychloroquine is Not the Miracle Drug Against COVID-19.
By: April Feng
Overwhelming scientific data has proven that hydroxychloroquine, the drug that has claimed to be an effective treatment against COVID-19, is ineffective.
Neil Schluger, a frontline doctor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, describes the experience of working with COVID-19 patients. “I would come into the ward in the morning to make rounds and say to the intern, ‘How did we do last night?’ And the intern said, ‘Well, I had 10 COVID admissions, and three of them have already died.’ It was like nothing I’ve experienced in 35 years of being a physician,” said Schluger.
After hearing about hydroxychloroquine, the new miracle drug, Schluger and colleagues prescribed the drug for 811 of the 1,446 hospitalized patients in the ward. However, hydroxychloroquine did not seem to be working, Schluger reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Thus, “we stopped giving hydroxychloroquine sometime in April,” Schluger said.
However, COVID cases have continued to fall “from about 10,000 per day in mid-April to under 800 per day in mid July,” said American University Radio. Despite the removal of hydroxychloroquine, New York City’s cases have continued to fall, demonstrating that the drug was not as effective as it claimed. Schluger said, “If we’d taken away a lifesaving drug, you wouldn’t expect that to happen.”
According to The New York Times, in a viral video posted on July 24, a group claiming to be “America’s Frontline Doctors” spread misleading and false information regarding the virus, including that “hydroxychloroquine was an effective coronavirus treatment and that masks did not slow the spread of the virus.”
Soon, President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted links to the video, spreading it like wildfire. Social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter quickly attempted to remove the video. Twitter additionally penalized Donald Trump Jr. for spreading misinformation by “[limiting] some account functionality for 12 hours,” as stated by The Washington Post.
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malaria drug that is also used to treat autoimmune diseases. Original hope that the drug might be effective in treating COVID came from a laboratory study that discovered “chloroquine could block the coronavirus from invading cells, which it must do to replicate and cause illness.”
However, it was found that COVID does not infect human lung cells in the same way that it infects monkey kidney cells, which were used in the study. Thus, “a lot of these [favorable hydroxychloroquine] studies that came out are sort of meaningless because they were done in the wrong cell [types],” says medicinal chemist Katherine Seley-Radtke, who resides at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the halting of the hydroxychloroquine studies, deeming that “the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19.”
Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, stated, “In effect, the drug didn’t work. I think we can put this drug aside and now devote our attention to other potential treatments.”