Bloomberg reported today the good news that two thirds of severe COVID-19 patients improved on a drug called remdesivir in a small, but promising test. That is very much not the drug hydroxychloroquine that Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her colleagues have been crowing about, along with the Fan in Chief, Donald Trump – and stopping one step short of calling skeptics murderers.
The report published in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked 53 people in the U.S., Europe and Canada who needed respiratory support, with about half receiving mechanical ventilation and four on a heart-lung by-pass machine. Eight additional patients were left out of the analysis: one due to a dosing error and seven because no information was available on how they fared.
“We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful,” said lead author Jonathan Grein, director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, in a statement from Gilead. The Foster City, California-based company provided the medication and also helped analyze the results.
Bloomberg notes that some scientists remain skeptical as there is no evidence how the patients would have fared without the drug.
However, it would appear that remdesivir has demonstrated more promise than hydroxychloroquine. Bloomberg notes:
President Donald Trump and others have touted the potential of hydroxychloroquine, an old malaria and lupus drug, for treating Covid-19. But that drug hasn’t yet been carefully studied in a large trial to see if it prevents severe complications. Most of the excitement stems from relentless social media promotion of a tiny French study whose methodology has been heavily criticized by many U.S. medical experts.
Bloomberg forgot to mention that many of those “others” are the non-medical experts hosting primetime Fox News show who have all but declared hydroxychloroquine a miracle drug.
The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi has a good summary of how Fox has used a pharmaceutical to wage its culture war against the media and just about anyone not in lockstep with Trumpism in the middle of a pandemic:
“It is probably the most shameful thing I, as someone who has done this for 20 years, has ever seen,” [Tucker Carlson] proclaimed [Tuesday night]. “It’s making a lot of us ashamed to work in the same profession as those people. So reckless and wrong in the middle of a pandemic, it really is, for real.”
Sean Hannity, whose program follows Carlson’s, was mad about it, too. The drug is showing signs of success, he said, “in spite of what the mob and the media is telling you,” he insisted Monday.
“After hearing all of the stories where hydroxychloroquine is credited with saving lives, it is amazing that the left and the medical establishment is still in total denial about the potential of these decades-old drugs,” Laura Ingraham said on her program Thursday night.
Ingraham even went to the White House with two doctors in a successful effort to sell the drug to Trump, The Washington Post reported last week. It raises big questions not only about the ethics but whether this crew has any financial or other personal interests at stake.
Fox News, itself, hosted a highly-credentialed, actual expert who ripped the “irresponsible” promotion of hydroxychloroquine. Dr. William Haseltine made some very pointed remarks on Fox’s The Daily Briefing last week:
“It’s sad to me that people are promoting that drug,” Haseltine said, without naming names. “We know already from studies, at best, it will have a very mild effect. At very best.”
But as I noted in my post about his appearance, Fox buried Haseltine’s views on one of its lowest-rated daytime shows. Thus Fox made sure Haseltine didn’t interfere with the primetime hydroxychloroquine hawking while also using him as cover to say, see, we present a wide range of opinion.
And that is exactly what Fox did when contacted by The Post for Farhi’s column:
A Fox News representative, Carly Shanahan, declined to comment on its hosts’ comments about hydroxychloroquine. She instead pointed to more-skeptical reporting about the drug from others at Fox.
(Coronavirus image via CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS/ Public domain)
But dumb as stump Trump didn’t even understand, per the original French study he gushed over, his beloved silver bullet was only marginally effective and really needed azithromycin to efficiently eliminate COVID-19.
Nor will you have Fox News or Trump soon point out the original French study is currently under investigation by the original publisher.
No kidding but some MAGA cultists have believed quack remedies like bleach and silver solution are miracle COVID-19 cures. If Trump had shilled them instead Foxies like Laura Ingraham would be Tweeting their praises daily.
My issue with the angry Right Wing approach to pushing one pet idea like hydroxycholoroquine is that they’ve they keep pretending it’s some kind of instant fix to this crisis. They’re hoping it’s a silver bullet that will suddenly finish the social distancing and give the Pence White House bragging points. They don’t understand that the rest of the country is fully aware of how and why we got into this mess and how much responsibility the Pence White House bears for it.