by Imogen Shaw
Tuesday, 7
April 2020
Explainer
11:45

False cures for Covid-19 are endangering my health

My access to hydroxychloroquine has been jeopardised since its rise to fame
by Imogen Shaw
The ‘maverick’ French doctor Didier Raoult has touted hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure

How would you feel if a drug you rely on every day was being sold as a miracle cure for Coronavirus?

I take hydroxychloroquine daily to manage the symptoms of an autoimmune disease, as do many people who have Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis or other overlapping conditions. Since a small sample study by a “maverick” French doctor was brought to the attention of the global media, access to my medication has been jeopardised.

Donald Trump and Jair Bolsanaro have touted it as a potential miracle cure for Covid-19. India — the chief manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine — has banned exports of the drug, and other countries have followed suit. New York hospitals are using it to treat around 4,000 seriously ill patients, and further testing is being carried out from China to the EU.

When I first heard reports that I could already be on medicine that helps treat Covid-19, I couldn’t help feeling a bit relieved – how could I not, when I was being sold even the remote possibility of advance protection from the biggest public health crisis in a century?

But as the US reports shortages of hydroxychloroquine, and we start to see this replicated elsewhere, many of us are now faced with the prospect of personal health crises in the middle of a public health catastrophe.

Rheumatologists often prescribe hydroxychloroquine as a first-line treatment. Unlike immunosuppressive drugs, it doesn’t increase susceptibility to viral or bacterial illnesses.

If autoimmune disease sufferers can’t access hydroxychloroquine, we are likely to experience flares in our symptoms. Other treatment options are usually limited to immunosuppressants or steroids — both of which carry an increased risk of contracting Covid-19. This is a potentially deadly double bind: if we’re not careful, the rise of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment could drive an increase in the number of people vulnerable to Covid-19.

Much like the arguments over its efficacy, this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be prescribed for Covid-19 at all. It might work; it might not. It might work sometimes and not others. In a pandemic, research has to happen on the go, and if it saves even a few lives then it will be worth it.

But we have to be sensible about how we do this. There’s been an understandable rise in people wanting to roll hydroxychloroquine out across the board immediately, even to take it preventatively — despite the fact there is no evidence this will work. There have even been reports of people trying to get prescriptions for it illegitimately.

On behalf of everyone who relies on hydroxychloroquine to stay healthy, please don’t try to take it if you don’t need to. Trust us — we and our health services will be better off for it.

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johntshea2
johntshea2
2 years ago

Mr. Hayes seems bent on inventing or advertising a new boogeyman, as if we hadn’t enough already. Yet, by the end of his article I’m no wiser than I was at the start, still unaware who or what exactly these “Traditionalists” are and what distinguishes them from common-or-garden Fascists or Buddhists or just plain “traditionalists” with a small “t”. In any case, I don’t expect to hear much more about them.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  johntshea2

Well, he does announce its obscurity in the title…

johntshea2
johntshea2
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

True!

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
2 years ago

Excellent article.
However… just because obvious things are not always meaningful, doesn’t mean that Orange Man is not meaningful

Peter Ryan
Peter Ryan
2 years ago

I think it’s an interesting point about the nature of history – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the application to the example of Jeremy Corbyn is accurate. I agree that Corbyn didn’t ‘win the argument’ with regard to the reaction to the pandemic, but I do think you can look at the March 11th budget (i.e. just before the pandemic realisation had really hit the gov.) and see the influence that Corbyn’s leadership has had on UK politics. The successful Starmer leadership bid was to the left of the alleged Marxist (Ed Miliband, the well known revolutionary), yet I reckon few think of him like that. I also think that the political debates we’ve had over the last few years remain relevant and will continue to be relevant after the pandemic – even if, yes, they don’t deserve to be the object of monomania.

Kate H. Armstrong
Kate H. Armstrong
2 years ago

Thank you Douglas. As always a rational and fact-based analysis. I am startled that there are no responses here … on such a misguided (or deceptive) attitude by so many UK-based members of the journalistic ‘profession’.

For the British Jewish community, a public conversation on Labour’s overt, well-proven, anti-semitism is urgent AND surely the least ‘we’, (as a democratic Nation) owe to a Community which has contributed so much, in so many areas of cultural and professional development?

PS. I am not Jewish but have enjoyed a lifetime of friendship (which included) both creative and intellectual challenge, from members of that Community.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

You look past the the spin that the commentariat – however skillfully – present to the public, and pull away the curtain to reveal their true motives. Motives they may not always fully be aware of themselves. You’ve done this in your books, and do it again here. Thank you, Douglas.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
2 years ago

The effortless arogant entitled authoritarian posturing of the likes of Corbyn and Clinton and Junker etc are why the voters don’t like them and their globalist agenda.

Rafael Aguilo
Rafael Aguilo
2 years ago

Before you talk about “false cures”, you should be aware of these two examples of how a combination treatment using hydroxychloroquine and Zinc is working. You can also blame the Globalists for any kind of shortage of hydroxychloroquine. That’s a glaring result of countries depending on basically ONE country for the production or manufacture of critical products:
https://youtu.be/7r_Z8Alz5PY

https://abc7.com/health/la-

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
2 years ago

Excellent analysis. However, I do take issue with what Peter Franklin has to say about Trump: “He is so different from how we expect a President to behave that we think he’s broken the mould and that US politics will never be the same again.” Actually, the president who really seems to have broken the mould and changed the presidency for at least a generation is Obama. He was a pathological liar who lied about everything from his dying mother’s health insurance coverage to the independence of Kosovo. (He claimed, delusionally, that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia came only after an internationally monitored referendum.) This led to the 2016 presidential election between a Democratic nominee who claimed to be the war heroine of Tuzla airport in Bosnia, and a Republican nominee, Donald Trump, who at times had claimed his paternal ancestry was Swedish, not German. Now in 2020, the choice is between Trump and Biden. Biden speaks of the Battle of Pristina in 1388, and claims, quite falsely, that he was a hard coal miner, a claim he lifted from a speech by Neil Kinnock. It seems now that Obama has made being a pathological liar, or at least, not being very careful with the truth, a prerequisite for a presidential nomination.

johntshea2
johntshea2
2 years ago

Hydroxychloroquine is a cheap and largely safe drug first introduced in 1955 and out of patent for decades. The Israeli drug company Teva recently GAVE away tens of milions of doses to US hospitals. Production of the drug can and should be vastly increased, There is no excuse for a shortage.

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
2 years ago

Trump simply did not “tout as a miricle cure”. This is a false statement. I suggest you switch off the BBC, CNN and Guardian. His exact words were “treatment for extreme cases was looking promising”. The context was at a press beifing as a small comment amongst a myriad of strategies being applied. But as usual the FAKE NEWS twisted it to make people like you believe what you are saying.

I hope every person that uses and needs these two drugs to maintain their amenity of health get it. But I can hardly blame people for for the rush. Certainly there are many overreactions such as buying toilet paper.

As the previous commentor mentioned there is no reason for anything but a breif shortage and hopefully the NHS will be sensible and prioritize historical users and acute patients.

I wish you well but I think the finger pointing and hostility is misplaced.