An epidemiology professor at the Yale School of Public Health said hydroxychloroquine could have saved more than 100,000 lives from the coronavirus, but instead it’s become apart of a “propaganda war.”
“I think 75,000 to 100,000 lives would be saved,” Dr. Harvey Risch told Fox News on Tuesday when asked whether hospitals should begin releasing the stockpile of the controversial anti-malarial drug.
“But it’s a political drug now, not a medical drug, and that’s caused the complete population’s ignorance,” Risch continued. “And I think we’re basically fighting a propaganda war against the medical facts, and that color is not just the population of people, how they think about it, but doctors as well.”
Risch criticized his colleagues who have advised against using hydroxychloroquine, accusing them of ignoring the anecdotal evidence supporting the drug’s use.
“There are many doctors that I’ve gotten hostile remarks about, saying that all the evidence is bad for it, and, in fact, that is not true at all,” Risch said.
“All the evidence is actually good for it when it is used in outpatient uses,” he said. “Nevertheless, the only people who actually see that are a whole pile of doctors who are on the front lines treating those patients across the country, and they are the ones who are at risk of being forced not to do it.”
Hundreds of doctors across the country have said that hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment against COVID-19, especially in severe cases.
One study by the Henry Ford Health System found that patients who were given hydroxychloroquine were much less likely to die from the virus.
About 26% of the patients who were not given hydroxychloroquine died, while only 13% of those who did receive the drug died, according to Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious diseases for Henry Ford.
Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group, said that hydroxychloroquine “could be a lifesaver for patients” if used “in the right settings.”
Despite this, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last month about using the drug to treat the coronavirus outside of a hospital setting or clinical trial, saying it could cause heart rhythm problems.
If the FDA were to rescind this guidance and open the drug up to the public, it would be much easier to manage the coronavirus, Risch argued.
“It would be game-changing,” he said. “In fact, all of the discussion that you had earlier on how to manage going forward through September, October and into next year will change if there’s prevention and treatment that works, that’s available and that’s safe.”