Trump’s early and strong recommendation of hydroxychloroquine comes back to bite; Fauci hit hard

After a new study found that a drug long approved for use in treating malaria was also highly effective at helping some of the sickest patients recover from COVID-19, supporters of former President Donald Trump took to social media this week to praise him while railing at lead immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci and others for downplaying its use.

The drug, hydroxychloroquine, was touted early in the pandemic by Trump and other scientists as an effective, cheap, and quickly available alternative for use ahead of developing vaccines to prevent novel coronavirus infections. In March 2020, the president himself let it slip that he was taking the drug prophylactically.

But critics of the then-president widely mocked him for recommending hydroxychloroquine, with many calling him dangerous and irresponsible for taking it. Critics included then-Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, who ridiculed Trump during a May 2020 interview.

“It’s like saying maybe if you inject Clorox into your blood, it may cure you,” Biden said, falsely claiming that Trump recommended bleach injections as a treatment for COVID-19. “C’mon, man! What is he doing? What in God’s name is he doing?”

In August, Adm. Brett Giroir, a four-star officer with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and pediatrician, told NBC News’s Chuck Todd that he could not “recommend” hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus. Additionally, he said it was time to “move on” from even discussing the use of the drug as a potential treatment because no studies or scientific findings at the time supported it.

“At this point in time, we don’t recommend that as a treatment,” Giroir told Todd after the host appeared to chide Trump for continuing to tout hydroxychloroquine’s use. “The evidence just doesn’t show hydroxychloroquine is effective right now.”

Emails revealed last week show that Fauci, the Biden administration’s lead medical adviser on the virus, was informed early on about hydroxychloroquine’s potential in successfully treating COVID patients. He was cc’ed on a February 2020 email from two Oklahoma doctors who discussed their research and the promise the drug held for COVID patients in an email to then-Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump had placed in charge of handling the pandemic.

Later the next month, Fauci become somewhat combative with a reporter during a COVID press conference, pushing back on scientific claims the drug had some positive effect on recovery rates.

“The evidence you’re talking about … is anecdotal evidence. The information that you’re referring to specifically is anecdotal. It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it,” Fauci said.

That was then, however.

Researchers who conducted the study discovered that when patients so stricken with the disease they had to be placed on ventilators who were given high doses of hydroxychloroquine and zinc had much higher survival rates, the Daily Mail reported Thursday. Some survival rates increased 200 percent, the study showed.

Published May 31, the study was conducted by researchers at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey involving 255 patients and appears to corroborate what Trump and others were saying about the drug’s potential more than a year ago — and before there were more than 613,000 deaths caused by the virus in the U.S. alone.

“Oh,” Jason Miller, a spokesman for the former president, simply tweeted in response to the findings as reported by the Washington Examiner: “Study shows hydroxychloroquine and zinc treatments increased coronavirus survival rate by almost three times.”

“Now we know why Fauci banned hydroxychloroquine: it would have made the experimental vaccines unnecessary,” Newsmax TV’s White House correspondent, Emerald Robinson, proffered.

“In the last week alone, we’ve learned that the media, so-called fact checkers and their Big Tech enforcers lied to us about the lab-leak theory, Hydroxychloroquine and the clearing of Lafayette Square. All to hurt Donald Trump. What else are they lying about?” Donald Trump Jr. wrote.

“Remember when the media mocked and derided Trump for mentioning hydroxychloroquine? I DO!” former White House press secretary and current Fox News contributor Kayleigh McEnany added.

Jon Dougherty

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