Epidemiologist and Yale Professor: Want to Save Lives? Stop the Politics and Use Hydroxychloroquine

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Posted: Jul 23, 2020 2:30 PM
Epidemiologist and Yale Professor: Want to Save Lives? Stop the Politics and Use Hydroxychloroquine

Source: (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

For months the media and Democrats have demonized the use of hydroxychloroquine, a decades old malaria drug, to treat victims of Wuhan coronavirus. Their opposition isn't based in science or fact, but instead on President Trump's advocacy and personal use of the drug. 

Seven months into the pandemic, Yale School of Public Health Professor and Epidemiologist Harvey Risch is saying it's past time the drug be prescribed to appropriate patients battling the disease. In fact, he says it's the key to victory in an op-ed for Newsweek (bolding is mine). 

As professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, I have authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications and currently hold senior positions on the editorial boards of several leading journals. I am usually accustomed to advocating for positions within the mainstream of medicine, so have been flummoxed to find that, in the midst of a crisis, I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines. As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily. Fortunately, the situation can be reversed easily and quickly.

I am referring, of course, to the medication hydroxychloroquine. When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc.

The medication has become highly politicized. For many, it is viewed as a marker of political identity, on both sides of the political spectrum. Nobody needs me to remind them that this is not how medicine should proceed. We must judge this medication strictly on the science. When doctors graduate from medical school, they formally promise to make the health and life of the patient their first consideration, without biases of race, religion, nationality, social standing—or political affiliation. Lives must come first.

He also reveals doctors who have been successfully prescribing the drug have been vilified and threatened with retaliation. 

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Physicians who have been using these medications in the face of widespread skepticism have been truly heroic. They have done what the science shows is best for their patients, often at great personal risk. I myself know of two doctors who have saved the lives of hundreds of patients with these medications, but are now fighting state medical boards to save their licenses and reputations. The cases against them are completely without scientific merit.

President Trump took hydroxychloroquine as a precaution in May. He is no longer taking the drug, but advocates for its use where appropriate.