Disinfo: US state medical team that banned hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 lacks qualification

Summary

The US state of Nevada’s medical team, which banned FDA-approved malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, lacks qualification.

Disproof

This is part of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign around the coronavirus, and specifically its efforts to spread false or misleading health information related to COVID-19, its prevention, and its treatment. See similar false claims like that COVID-19 can be cured with saline solution, that treatment for COVID-19 will lead to forced vaccination, that handwashing is useless for preventing the spread of the virus, and that we have "nothing to lose" by making hydroxychloroquine publicly available without testing. False and misleading health claims are the most dangerous and irresponsible aspect of coronavirus-related disinformation, as they can have a direct impact on people’s health and even their lives.

This article baselessly accuses a US state medical team of lacking professional qualifications in order to provoke doubt about the state's decision to ban the use of anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19. These drugs have not yet been tested for their effectiveness against COVID-19 and are not recommended for this purpose by health authorities, including the WHO and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which states that as of yet "there are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19." The FDA is currently investigating whether chloroquine "can be used to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to potentially reduce the duration of symptoms, as well as viral shedding, which can help prevent the spread of disease."

On 20 March, the WHO also announced a major global trial called SOLIDARITY to test four potential treatments for COVID-19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The SOLIDARITY trial will involve 45 countries and is designed to “dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work.” In a statement, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We call on individuals and countries to refrain from using therapeutics that have not been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19. The history of medicine is strewn with examples of drugs that worked on paper, or in a test tube, but didn't work in humans or were actually harmful. We must follow the evidence. There are no short-cuts.”

Chloroquine has recently garnered public attention after a small study of 36 COVID-19 patients in France demonstrated initially promising results; however, infectious disease experts have said the findings are not conclusive and require further study. Importantly, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can have serious side effects, especially at high doses or when combined with other medicines. They should not be used without a prescription and without medical supervision.

Experts and health authorities, including the WHO and the European Medicine Agency, have also expressed concern that premature use of these drugs for COVID-19 may create dangerous shortages for patients who need them for other serious conditions, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The WHO advises against “unnecessary stockpiling and the creation of shortages of approved medicines that are required to treat other diseases”.

See the WHO’s mythbusting page about false COVID-19 health advice for more information.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 191
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 25/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: US
  • Keywords: coronavirus

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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