Randomized controlled trials — the highest standard of evidence — have found that hydroxychloroquine isn’t beneficial in treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Yet social media posts are claiming the drug works, and conservative outlets have touted an unpublished, and much-criticized, observational study as evidence of the drug’s effectiveness.
Thousands of pages of redacted emails to and from Dr. Anthony Fauci are now publicly available, thanks to journalists’ Freedom of Information Act requests. Some of those messages have been distorted in viral posts, particularly about face masks, the origins of the coronavirus and the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine.
Uganda has had relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths — but not because of hydroxychloroquine, as an article on social media claims. Uganda’s guidelines initially included the use of the drug as an experimental medication, but studies showed it made no difference. Instead, the country implemented a strict lockdown and mask mandate that has limited the virus’ spread.
A widely shared video, featuring a doctor falsely claiming hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for COVID-19, ignited an online storm that resulted in the video being pulled by social media platforms. There is no known cure for COVID-19, and current scientific evidence hasn’t found that hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has promoted the “astonishing” results of an observational study that found hydroxychloroquine was associated with lower mortality for patients hospitalized for COVID-19. But the study has limitations, and multiple randomized controlled trials have found the drug is not beneficial to hospitalized patients.
At the White House, the Health and Human Services secretary left the misleading impression that the FDA’s decision to revoke its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 “removes a potential barrier” and makes it easier to access the drugs. The FDA’s action does the opposite.