The President announced that he has begun taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure since several people on the White House staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19. To no ones surprise the media (and Democrats) have harassed him for it non-stop. This is privileged information that the press (and others) have no business knowing. I think the President shared this information because the media has beaten him up over his endorsement of the drug weeks ago. Trump was basing his praise on Chinese reports of excellent results with it in treating their patients. The drug has also been used with great success in Italy and France. This particular medication (hydroxychloroquine) remains in the treatment protocol for MANY medical centers in the U.S. and is in the written protocol for the East Virginia Medical School. The media and Democratic politicians love to point out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) say the drug is ineffective. There are thousands of patients (and their doctors) who would differ with those professional groups. As we have seen with the World Health Organization (WHO) many of these professional organizations are influenced by money and politics. The FDA and CDC are not without bias in some of their proclamations; they were wrong when they underestimated the degree to which this virus would affect the U.S. Critics of the FDA & CDC point out that hydroxychloroquine is inexpensive and can be taken by mouth whereas the drug being promoted by “experts” is remdesivir which must be administered intravenously and at a cost of $1000/dose. Remdesivir was shown to shorten hospital stays by an average of four days, a financial benefit that makes the drug’s cost more acceptable. Shortening hospital stays also frees up beds and personnel for other sick patients. The President should be applauded for his actions, not criticized since we can not afford to have him disabled from a COVID-19 illness. Maybe Nancy Pelosi has an ulterior motive for the President to become gravely ill since she is currently third in line to the presidency.
An interesting finding in the Chinese experience with the virus is that patients who were taking hydroxychloroquine for lupus or rheumatoid arthritis seemed to be immune from the virus. We currently have studies underway in the U.S. in which healthcare workers are taking the drug preventively to see if it can truly be used for that purpose. One of the reasons the FDA is opposed to using hydroxychloroquine is the potential for triggering arrhythmias. In the EKG cycle the drug prolongs repolarization which can make the heart irritable and susceptible to a fatal irregular heart rhythm. This side effect is extremely rare but is more likely to occur when the drug is combined with the antibiotic azithromycin. We have known that much of the damage from the COVID-19 virus is generated from overreaction of the body’s immune system known as “cytokine storm.” Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-inflammatory drug that calms down the immune system and would appear to be the ideal drug to treat this aspect of a COVID-19 infection. Some treatment protocols actually combine hydroxychloroquine with remdesivir (which interferes with viral replication). Therapeutically we are gaining new knowledge every day in this war against the virus. I believe hydroxychloroquine is part of the game plan and the President (and his physician) have made a wise choice.