Remember the Malaria Drug Trump Was Pushing to Treat Coronavirus? Well a VA Study Shows It’s Really Good...For Malaria

Illustration for article titled Remember the Malaria Drug Trump Was Pushing to Treat Coronavirus? Well a VA Study Shows It’s Really Good...For Malaria
Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

Remember when Trump came out and used the same one-liner to encourage black people to vote for him (“What do you have to lose?”) as the mantra to try hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, to treat the coronavirus?

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Well, two things were discovered in a large analysis of its use in veterans hospitals across America. The first was that there were more deaths among those given the malaria drug than those who were given standard care. And secondly—and this might be the most important discovery in the testing—THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS A FUCKING IDIOT!

He’s not even a sophisticated idiot; he’s your run-of-the-mill idiot who tries scams at McDonald’s. He’s the idiot who takes Old Navy socks with Old Navy emblazoned on them back to Nordstrom because he heard they have a liberal return policy. He’s the idiot who took a loosely based showing of progress within a few patients who were given hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin or Zithromax (commonly referred to as a Z-pack) and touted it as a coronavirus cure-all from the largest perch in the country. And I know it was rumored that Trump had a huge financial stake in the company that makes the medicine the snake oil salesman was pushing but Business Insider found that to be false.

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According to the Associated Press, 368 male patients— “the largest look so far of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19”—were treated for the virus that, as of Tuesday, has killed over 171,000 people.

After analyzing the medical records of 368 male veterans who had been confirmed to have coronavirus, researchers found that “about 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival.”

They also found that hydroxychloroquine didn’t help folks breathe better or keep those struggling to breathe from needing a breathing machine.

From AP:

Researchers did not track side effects, but noted hints that hydroxychloroquine might have damaged other organs. The drug has long been known to have potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.

Earlier this month, scientists in Brazil stopped part of a hydroxychloroquine study after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of people given the higher of two doses being tested.

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AP notes that “the nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment.” But the “study was posted on an online site for researchers and has been submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine, but has not been reviewed by other scientists. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia paid for the work.”

“I think we’re all rather underwhelmed” at what’s been seen among the few patients there who’ve tried it, Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control and prevention at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, told AP.

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Safdar added that patients began asking for the drug after Trump started pushing it like an orphaned orange peel who’d left his mother’s house to sell drugs.

“But now I think that people have realized we don’t know if it works or not” and needs more study, said Safdar, who had no role in the VA analysis, AP reports.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.

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DISCUSSION

Who would have thought a medication to kill a parasitic protozoan that infects red blood cells which have no nulcleus or DNA would magically work on a virus that uses RNA to hijack the DNA replication chemistry in the nucleus of other cells to copy itself?

Sure, it could work, but it’s not really any more likely to work than any of the other billions of random chemicals you could pick.