Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump and his allies have been eager for some kind of quick fix to the disease. To that end, they’ve touted the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a supposed useful treatment option for patients suffering from the Coronavirus, although there’s basically no systematic evidence that the drug actually assuredly helps. Nevertheless, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has apparently used the drug on veterans who’ve become Coronavirus patients in the department’s hospital system, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is demanding detailed answers about their usage of hydroxychloroquine.
Schumer wants the VA “to explain why it allowed the use of an unproven drug on veterans for the coronavirus, saying patients may have been put at unnecessary risk,” the Associated Press summarizes. In data collected from cases in which Coronavirus-infected veterans were given the drug in the VA hospital system, hydroxychloroquine actually correlated with a sharply higher death rate. A full 15 percent more of the veterans who got the drug died compared to those who did not, although an exact explanation for that finding is not immediately clear.
No matter potential lingering issues, the Department recently ordered $208,000 of hydroxychloroquine, although the drug is already customarily used for ailments like lupus.
‘There are concerns that they are using this drug when the medical evidence says it doesn’t help and could hurt… These are people who risked their lives for us. They should be treated only with the utmost dignity, respect and high standards of care.’
The Associated Press summarizes that Schumer also wants department head Robert Wilkie to “address whether anyone at the department was pressured by the White House or the administration to use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.” Just recently, reporting emerged thanks to Dr. Rick Bright that indicated that the Trump administration had been angling to “flood” hard-hit areas amidst the pandemic with hydroxychloroquine. In the time since that stage of the outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration has stepped in to admonish Americans not to use the drug outside of hospital or clinical trial settings, which is a stark contrast to Trump’s glib proclamation at a press conference that Americans should just “take it.” He questioned what they “had to lose.”
VA spokeswoman Christina Noel insisted that only “the best medical interests of patients” weigh on the department’s treatment decisions. She added:
‘VA only permits use of the drug after ensuring veterans and caretakers are aware of potential risks associated with it, as we do with any other drug or treatment.’
The Associated Press summarizes that the department has “repeatedly declined to say how widely the drug was being used for COVID-19, including how many veterans were given the drug, and whether VA doctors were given guidance by VA headquarters on specific scenarios when it should be used.”
The debacle surrounding hydroxychloroquine is not the first instance in which the “advice” from the president and his allies has seemed to put lives at risk. At a recent White House press conference, Trump even suggested that household disinfectants might be able to be used internally as a treatment for the Coronavirus. As should go without saying, ingesting something like bleach would be toxic.