White House

Trump’s Critics Attack His Optimistic Case for Hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, listens to a reporter’s question at the coronavirus update briefing at the White House, March 26, 2020. (Tia Dufour/White House)
Doctors are optimistic about the experimental therapy, but Trump's optimism is met with apoplexy.

President Donald Trump’s foes are foaming at the mouth, yet again. Since late March, the president has dreamed that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), perhaps coupled with Zithromax (azithromycin), might defeat COVID-19, for which there is no cure or vaccine. Trump discussed this 65-year-old anti-malaria drug at a daily briefing on this pandemic. “It’s shown very, very encouraging early results” among researchers, Trump said. These two drugs “taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine,” he stated via Twitter.

“Very encouraging” and “real chance” are words of aspiration, not prescription. And Trump repeatedly has said that these drugs ultimately might fail, but nonetheless should be investigated.

“If we’re going to go into labs and test all of this for a long time, we can test it on people right now who are in serious trouble, who are dying,” Trump told journalists. “If it works, we’ve done a great thing. If it doesn’t work, you know, we tried.” Trump asked bluntly: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Never mind! The Trump haters practically sued him for medical malpractice.

Even as its hometown devolved into COVID-19’s epicenter, the so-called “Paper of Record” slammed Trump. Based on “minimal evidence,” the Old Gray Lady sniffed, Trump’s enthusiasm for this possible treatment “defies science.” One of this “news” outlet’s headlines crowed as conclusively as if it reported that the sun rose in the east: “No, These Medicines Cannot Cure Coronavirus.”

The Washington Post published an op-ed co-authored by Zeke Emanuel, Obamacare’s snotty, snarling chief architect. Headline: “Trump’s not a doctor. He’s only playing one on TV.” The Beltway’s bible also hurled this rotten tomato at the president: “Trump is giving people false hope of coronavirus cures. It’s all snake oil.”

“Trump peddles unsubstantiated hope in dark times,” CNN scolded. Even worse, the lightly viewed channel’s John Berman lied by claiming that an Arizona man died from consuming an aquarium cleaner after Trump endorsed “that drug.”

“That drug,” hydroxychloroquine, stops malaria. The chloroquine phosphate that this Phoenix resident gulped down sterilizes fish tanks. CNN concealed this life-and-death distinction.

This Phoenician’s demise is no more Trump’s fault than if the president urged someone to “put some sodium chloride in your soup.” If that individual then poured sodium into his chicken broth, rather than table salt, Trump would be blameless for any ensuing fire, explosion, or demise that befell anybody incapable of differentiating these substances.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Mika Brzezinski spoke above a graphic that read, “Trump again touts unproven drug to treat coronavirus.” She went so far as to accuse President Trump of criminal fraud, related to his optimistic comments about HCQ. Scandalously, and with less evidence than there is of this drug’s use against this pathogen, Brzezinski claimed, “A lot of people would say, ‘Follow the money.’ There’s gotta be some sort of financial tie to someone somewhere that has the president pushing this repeatedly.” Brzezinski’s baseless charge is downright clownish: The FDA has listed HCQ as an approved generic drug (as Plaquenil) since May 1999. A five-day treatment reportedly costs a whopping $12. For such monetary crumbs, multi-billionaire President Trump is breaking conflict-of-interest laws, daily, on live television? Really?

Trump-hating Democratic governors then joined the onslaught. Nevada’s Steve Sisolak banned these drugs as COVID-19 treatments. Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer saw and raised Sisolak’s bet: The woman who officially rebutted Trump’s latest State of the Union threatened inquests and “administrative action” against doctors who prescribed and pharmacists who dispensed these remedies. Whitmer also encouraged these medical providers to rat on each other, East German-style. A letter from her Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs warned them “to be mindful that licensed health professionals are required to report inappropriate prescribing practices.”

Fascinating: The same Democrats who would dive onto swords to defend a woman’s right to choose to abort her child would hurl her doctor and pharmacist onto swords if she chose HCQ and Zithromax to prevent her death from COVID-19.

Governors Sisolak and Whitmer are moderates compared with state representative Tavia Galonski (D., Ohio). For the “crime” of advocating that COVID-19 patients have access to a possible cure for what ails them, Galonski wants President Trump brought before the International Criminal Court.

“I can’t take it anymore,” she said Sunday via Twitter. “I’ve been to The Hague. I’m making a referral for crimes against humanity tomorrow. Today’s press conference was the last straw. I know the need for a prosecution referral when I see one.”

Crimes against humanity? There officially are 16 such offenses. These include rape, forced pregnancy, forced sterilization, enslavement, torture, murder, and extermination. Those indicted at The Hague for such crimes include the late Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi, Sudanese butcher Omar al-Bashir, and Congolese thug Bosco Ntaganda, accused of killing 800 people and displacing 60,000 others. Representative Galonski offered no evidence that Trump has perpetrated any such violations.

“I need every lawyer that ever did any work on the international level to contact me,” Galonski added via Twitter. How exactly did Galonski plan to launch her complaint? “I honestly have no idea,” she told Ohio Capital Journal. “But how hard can it be?”

This is the ultimate in anti-Trump rage: The president thinks something might heal the sick. But der Orangienführer is evil. Ergo, anything he likes must be crushed. This posture is potentially lethal.

One of those who has not died from COVID-19 credits Trump’s “snake oil” for keeping him alive.

My friend and occasional co-author Charles Vavruska — a school-reform activist in Queens — suffered fever, aches, and fatigue for five days. He eventually went to New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital, fearing the worst. “I never had the flu and have not been hospitalized since I had my tonsils removed at age 5,” he told me Saturday afternoon.

Vavruska’s doctors soon administered a COVID-19 test.

“Yes. I had C-19,” he recalled. “Within an hour of testing positive, they put me on what I call the Trump Treatment: HCQ and Zithromax. It works great. I went in with bilateral pneumonia. Within two to three days, I felt much better. No fever, no aches, and my appetite and energy were restored. I remained on oxygen, but at a lower level. I was released 10 days after being admitted, and I am still on oxygen at home. I want people who are sick at home to have access to the therapy that cured me.”

Great idea!

Alas, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) has ordered that doctors cannot prescribe HCQ against COVID-19 and dispense it via pharmacies. Instead, Cuomo has decided, it will be available only via hospitals. Of course, putting patients in hospital beds just so that they can get HCQ will increase pressure on medical centers, which is the last thing doctors and nurses need right now. Likewise, limiting HQC to hospital patients needlessly keeps this drug from those who are insufficiently ill to be admitted to medical centers. Why not let them heal at home, rather than deteriorate without HCQ — if that’s what these patients and their doctors want?

“The trial that I was helping with at my institution was shut down when the governor [Cuomo] banned the use of hydroxychloroquine for prescription use for outpatients,” Dr. Mehmet Oz, told host Lou Dobbs last night on the Fox Business Network. “I was trying to see if we could actually treat early disease and replicate what’s been done in China and in France.”

Dr. Oz, the director of Columbia University’s Integrative Medicine Center and television host, added: “I’m upset, obviously, because I wanted to do the trial. I also wanted it to be legal in my state for a doctor to talk to a patient about their COVID-19 and treat them as they felt appropriate….We should be allowed to have that discussion with our patients in New York.”

Just days after declaring their jihad against HCQ, President Trump’s critics now have been exposed as cruel, heartless, and stupid.

On March 29, the FDA approved HCQ for “emergency use” against COVID-19. The University of Minnesota on March 17 launched a quadruple-blind Phase I and II clinical trial on 1,500 patients. New York State has secured 70,000 doses of HCQ and 10,000 of azithromycin for research, including one experiment now observing 1,100 patients — “particularly in the New York City hospitals,” Cuomo said — although, once again, he forbids outpatients to get HCQ for COVID-19 in the Empire State.

HCQ donations are cascading into the national stockpile: 1 million doses from Bayer, 6 million from Teva, 30 million from Sandoz, and 130 million from Novartis.

Meanwhile, Governor Whitmer flip-flopped like an Olympic diver. She now seeks heaps of HCQ for COVID-stricken Michiganders. “I think that there is some great potential here,” she said April 2.

Rightly so. On Thursday, Sermo, a Manhattan-based healthcare data-collection company, released its survey of 6,200 doctors in 30 countries. Asked to consider 15 options, they rated HCQ “the most effective therapy” against COVID-19. Among those treating this virus’s victims, 37 percent considered it “most effective.” While only 23 percent of American physicians placed HCQ atop this list of treatments, HCQ was the first choice of 44 percent of their Chinese peers, 53 percent of those in Italy, and 75 percent of Spanish clinicians.

And the Old Gray Lady’s hands must have quaked when she scribbled this headline Wednesday: “Malaria Drug Helps Coronavirus Patients Improve, in Small Study.”

Researchers in Wuhan, China, treated 62 COVID-19 patients. Half got HCQ. Half did not. Those who took HCQ saw coughs and fever subside a day sooner than the others. More impressive: Pneumonia decreased among 81 percent of HCQ subjects versus 55 percent of the control group.

Let’s hope scientists also cure the psychopathology that enslaves those who believe that, between COVID-19 and the president, Trump is the bigger danger.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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