COVID: Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) & America’s Frontline Doctors
By now many of you have no doubt seen the viral video from the group America’s Frontline
Doctors regarding Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a “cure” for COVID. I will say that it is a shame that we have come to the point that censorship is the way we choose to deal with disagreements. I will lay out my thoughts on HCQ, censorship and conspiracies. The bottom line is this, anyone who says at this time that HCQ is a cure for COVID-19 is a fool as is anyone who says it couldn’t possibly help. We simply do not have enough evidence one way or the other to draw any conclusions.
COVID-19 has no cure at this time. Is it possible a cure will be found? Certainly, although this is unlikely as there are very few “cures” for viruses in general. We have treatments that mitigate the effect of some viruses (think Remdesivir or Tamiflu) and we have preventions (such as vaccines) but very few medical cures. While anecdotally some physicians have found success with some combination of HCQ, Azithromycin and Zinc there have been no well-validated studies to this effect.
On the other hand, there are numerous studies that have looked at HCQ in various forms and combinations. A few prominent studies were retracted due to poor statistics and
inaccurate conclusions. Many others had poor study designs that failed to consider the proposed mechanism of action of the drug combination. Namely that they help prevent entry of SARS-COV2 into the cells. Hypothetically, in order for the drugs to work they would need to be administered in the early stages of exposure (long before hospitalization). Others looked at the drugs in isolation instead of in combination.
Typically, the scientific medical community uses a slow and methodical research process to ensure the height of reliability and validity. This is great for steady and safe progress. This is a non-ideal approach to a fast moving pandemic. We need to empty the arsenal and be willing to try multiple approaches and use medical consensus in the face of a paucity of Grade-A evidence to save lives. This means if we have a (relatively) safe option that has been shown anecdotally to save lives, we should strongly consider using it and we should certainly continue to study it as best we can.
Both America’s Frontline Doctors and those censoring the videos are wrong. Hydroxychloroquine is unlikely to be a great cure, but it’s also unlikely to cause grave harm. For this reason, until we have a better option, it is worth considering it as adjunct treatment for COVID-19 for the right patient population. However, since it has not been shown in any way to be a cure, we must continue to use great vigilance to prevent spread in the first place including social distancing and mask-wearing.
We will tackle school opening and mask wearing in future posts. Please comment below about your thoughts on the video and this post as well as other topics you’d like to see discussed.