Yesterday, I pointed out the potential consequences of having an overwrought, childish, partisan debate over a lifesaving drug that’s used by millions of Americans. Today, I see, Joe Biden is comparing hydroxychloroquine to poison. “It’s like saying maybe if you inject Clorox into your blood it may cure you,” Biden said of Donald Trump’s admission that he takes the drug. “C’mon, man! What is he doing? What in God’s name is he doing?”
Now, I get that Biden thinks it’s cute to merge the myth that Trump wants Americans to inject themselves with bleach and the president’s unproven prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine. It’s worth noting, however, that the presumptive Democratic Party nominee is also now telling Americans — including those who need this low-risk prescribed drug that has been approved for all public use for over 70 years — that taking hydroxychloroquine is tantamount to injecting yourself with bleach.
Listen to this NPR interview with some doctors trying to conduct tests of hydroxychloroquine effectiveness. Dr. John Giles, a rheumatologist at Columbia University, who says that the partisan fight over hydroxychloroquine has made it virtually impossible for him to find people to test the effectiveness of the drug against coronavirus. Why would anyone want to swallow Clorox, right?
“We are hearing now from some participants that the study and the drug feel too political and they just don’t want to participate at all,” says Dr. Christine Johnston at the University of Washington. Giles also points out that hydroxychloroquine is a “very, very safe drug,” and yet he can’t get people to participate in a study because “pretty much everyone” believes it’s “dangerous to your heart.”
You might remember the same media that is deeply offended by Trump’s championing of an “unproven” drug wrote story after story about a study, neither rigorous nor peer-reviewed, that claimed hydroxychloroquine regularly caused heart arrhythmias.
So Giles was unable to conduct any trials. Other doctors are struggling to find people as well. There is no other conceivable reason why this happens other than the politicization and fear-mongering of a drug. Merely because Trump championed the drug, Dana Milbank feels free to compare it to “camel urine” and Representative Donna Shalala feels free to joke about how it might cause hair loss. (I wonder if the thousands of young people who need hydroxychloroquine think it’s as funny as she does.)
These people don’t care one whit about science, they are consumed with hate for Trump. There are a number doctors with solid qualifications who see promise in hydroxychloroquine as a therapeutic answer to COVID-19. Whether they are right or wrong is yet to be seen. Or maybe not, since knee-jerk anti-Trumpism has created an environment where scientists can’t conduct a simple study.