COVID19…Amidst the conundrum and the chaos . Weekly musings of an ID Doc. July 28, 2020.

I did not think I will have to discuss Hydroxychloroquine or Plaquenil anymore but here we are again. Plaquenil, early on during the pandemic, was touted as a “miracle drug” based on personal experience or anecdotal evidence. But as more scientific and well-controlled clinical trials showed no efficacy and even higher potential for adverse events including the VA study from West Virginia (involving 600 patients), the Lancet study with 96,000 patients which has since been retracted because of question of validity of data, French study, etc. All of these studies showed that that not only it is not beneficial but there is also higher risk for side effects including retinal dysfunction, cardiac events, even death.

But it seems that the idea of Plaquenil as treatment for COVID-19 is back again based largely on a video posted on social media (I am not going to say that it went viral, pun very much intended). Basically a group of physicians calling themselves “America’s Front Line Doctors ” are advocating the use of Hydroxychloroquine as a cure again. I could personally say that the speech was passionate and might be convincing to others but it does not really provide convincing evidence of safety and efficacy as they are all personal experience and not based on carefully controlled studies which will have to be scrutinized and be peer-reviewed to ensure the findings and claims are robust and correct. I tried to go to their website and that is no longer online. The video circulating online is from a pediatrician who claims that she has treated about 300 COVID-19 patients with Hydroxychloroquine with outstanding results. Which begs a question of how busy she is in her pediatric practice that she was able to see that much kids with COVID-19. I am a solo Infectious Disease specialist in a community that serves about 150,000 people and I have not seen that much COVID-19 patients (probably close to 180, maybe 200). The video features that pediatrician/religious minister who at some point claimed that endometriosis is caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches and that alien DNA is currently being used in medical treatments and that scientists are creating a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. Enough said about that group.

The sooner we stop talking about Plaquenil as a cure for COVID-19, the better off we are. We have to move on.

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