Fauci Says Hydroxychloroquine Is Not a Proven Coronavirus Cure
The head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force tamps down enthusiasm for unproven COVID-19 treatment.
The coronavirus pandemic has the world trying to limit the outbreak and treat the deadly contagion that is predicted to cost hundreds of thousands of American lives. Amid this surreal public health scare, there have been reports that a malaria treatment known as hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for COVID-19. But Anthony Fauci, MD, the leading virologist on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is suggesting that it is far too soon to see this as an effective treatment.
Over the past two weeks, hydroxychloroquine has entered the vernacular of many Americans, in part due to President Donald Trump's repeated promotion of it as a possible effective treatment for those with COVID-19. On Wednesday, a survey of global doctors treating those affected by the coronavirus captured the attention of many looking for any shred of positive medical news.
The survey was conducted by Sermo, which describes itself as the "largest healthcare data collection company and global social platform for physicians." Sermo noted that the report "leveraged its capabilities to publish results of a COVID-19 study with more than 6,200 physicians in 30 countries. The study was completed in three days. Data covers current treatment and prophylaxis options, timing to the outbreak peak, effectiveness of government responses, and much more." The specific portion of the report that has eyebrows raised the highest?
- The three most commonly prescribed treatments amongst COVID-19 treaters are 56% analgesics, 41% Azithromycin, and 33% Hydroxychloroquine
- Hydroxychloroquine usage amongst COVID-19 treaters is 72% in Spain, 49% in Italy, 41% in Brazil, 39% in Mexico, 28% in France, 23% in the U.S., 17% in Germany, 16% in Canada, 13% in the UK and 7% in Japan
- Hydroxychloroquine was overall chosen as the most effective therapy amongst COVID-19 treaters from a list of 15 options (37% of COVID-19 treaters) 75% in Spain, 53% Italy, 44% in China, 43% in Brazil, 29% in France, 23% in the U.S. and 13% in the U.K.
The portion bolded above has been what many have zeroed in on. But, during a Friday morning appearance on Fox & Friends, Fauci was asked about this positive news and said, "That was not a very robust study. It is still possible that there is a beneficial effect … On a scale of strength of evidence, that's not overwhelmingly strong. It's an indication, a hint."
He added to the Fox & Friends anchors: "I think you said 37 percent of doctors 'feel' that it's beneficial—we don't operate on how you feel. We operate on what evidence is, and data is. So although there is some suggestion with the study that was just mentioned … I mean, granted there is a suggestion that there is a benefit there, I think we've got to be careful that we don't make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug. … It's understandable why people may want to take something anyway, even with the slightest hint of it being affective."
So while there may be reason for positive thoughts, according to Fauci, who has widely received bipartisan praise for his leadership during this global public health crisis, it's too soon to see hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronavirus. And for more facts, check out 15 Coronavirus Myths You Need to Stop Believing, According to Doctors.