Fauci, FDA mum as hydroxychloroquine slashes COVID-19 deaths in study

As America reels from an upsurge of new coronavirus cases, the country’s so-called infectious disease experts are eerily silent three days after researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan reported that early administration of the drug hydroxychloroquine cut deaths of hospitalized patients by close to 70%. They also reported that patients did not suffer heart-related side effects from the drug, contradicting other studies.

Administration officials like National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, should be applauding the news as the US records 60,000 daily cases and infections rise in 40 states. They claim to care so much about public health, scientific data and saving lives.

Dr. Marcus Zervos, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Medical Director of Infection Control at Henry Ford Health System led the research, which was published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“In this multi-hospital assessment, when controlling for COVID-19 risk factors, treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone and in combination with azithromycin was associated with reduction in COVID-19 associated mortality,” researchers noted.

The study analyzed 2,541 patients hospitalized between March 10 and May 2. Researchers discovered that only 13% of the patients who were treated with the drug died, compared to 26% who did not get the drug.

The study found that hydroxychloroquine provided a “66% hazard ratio reduction,” and hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin a 71 percent reduction, compared to neither treatment.

“Overall crude mortality rates were 18.1% in the entire cohort, 13.5% in the hydroxychloroquine alone group, 20.1% among those receiving hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin, 22.4% among the azithromycin alone group, and 26.4% for neither drug,” researchers noted, advising that “prospective trials are needed” for further review.

“Our results do differ from some other studies,” Zervos said at a Thursday news conference. “What we think was important in ours … is that patients were treated early.

“The dosing that we used was very different from what was used in other studies, and the third very important point was that we very closely monitored the patients,” he said. “We also found that using steroids early in the infection was associated with a reduction in mortality.” He noted that 82% of the patients started taking hydroxychloroquine within 24 hours of hospitalization and 91% of patients started taking them within 48 hours.

“For hydroxychloroquine to have a benefit, it needs to begin before the patients begin to suffer some of the severe immune reactions that patients can have with COVID,” Zervos said, adding that most had underlying health conditions. The median age of those treated with hydroxychloroquine was 64-years-old; 51% of the participants were men and 56% of participants were African Americans.

President Donald Trump called the fifty-year-old anti-malaria drug a potential “game changer” in the fight against coronavirus in March and even took a two-week course of the drug as a prophylactic. His campaign hailed the findings as “fantastic news” in a statement Friday.

“The new study from the Henry Ford Health System should be a clear message to the media and the Democrats: stop the bizarre attempts to discredit hydroxychloroquine to satisfy your own anti-Trump agenda. It may be costing lives.”

“Fortunately, the Trump Administration secured a massive supply of hydroxychloroquine for the national stockpile months ago,” his campaign noted.

 “Yet this is the same drug that the media and the Biden campaign spent weeks trying to discredit and spread fear and doubt around because President Trump dared to mention it as a potential treatment for coronavirus.”

Fauci has been openly critical of the president’s efforts to provide access to the drug. The media darling, who has been hailed as the nation’s “top infectious disease expert” has repeatedly downplayed studies showing the drug’s potential life-saving capabilities as “anecdotal.”

“The scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy,” Fauci said on CNN in May, insisting that “the data are clear right now.”

Randomized, controlled clinical trials are regarded as the gold standard for evaluating potential treatments, but political interference from Fauci and other so called scientists has led to numerous disruptions and cancellations of ongoing clinical trials with millions of lives at stake.

Reporters questioned Fauci in March about a study in France showing the drug to be effective as he stood next to Trump at a White House briefing. He declared “the answer is no” to the drug as a potential treatment because “the evidence you’re talking about … is anecdotal evidence.”

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

Trump upstaged him, declaring, “We’ll see. We’re going to know soon.”

“We have millions of units ordered,” he added, rejecting the notion that he was giving Americans a false sense of hope. “It may work, it may not work,” he said. “I feel good about it.”

A widely publicized and discredited study conducted by British medical journal The Lancet concluded the drug was not beneficial and increased the risk of irregular heart rhythms and death. After the study was published the World Health Organization (WHO) suspended its coronavirus treatment trials of the drug.

After concerns were raised about the data, some of the study’s authors said they could no longer stand by their paper in The Lancet as the healthcare firm Surgisphere that was involved in the work would not allow an independent review. It has been called one of the biggest retractions in modern history. The New England Journal of Medicine retracted another paper that had data from Surgisphere.

Hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency treatment in severely ill coronavirus patients, although it carried warnings of cardiovascular problems and other health issues. 

The FDA determined in June that they did not meet “the statutory criteria” for emergency use authorization as they are “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19 based on the latest scientific evidence.”

After reviewing new information from large clinical trials the agency concluded that the suggested dosing regimens “are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect,” FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton said in a letter announcing the decision.

“Additionally, in light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of CQ and HCQ no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use,” the FDA said.