Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 (with a note on the AAPS)

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  We are not doctors.  At best, we’re debunkers of internet myths and news commentators.  If you’re reduced to getting medical advice from an upjumped social media blog like this, you really need a better PCP.  And no, that’s not medical advice any more than the rest of this is; it’s just informed opinion.)

Everyone’s got a position on HCQ, but most of you haven’t bothered to review the facts first before choosing which ground to stand.  For a disturbing number of people, it’s enough that Donald Trump endorses it.  (I blame our national trait for this — a uniquely American optimism.  -Editor)

To be clear:  It’s bad enough that people who esteem Trump highly will take his medical advice; he’s certainly no doctor.  What’s terrifying is that people who believe Trump is incompetent, senile, or just plain evil will oppose his position regardless of fact.  Given the odds, even a complete imbecile is going to guess right from time to time.  Never let someone you don’t respect influence your thinking.

So here’s a quick digest of what we know.  It’s freely available from fully a dozen different online medical resources, and Wikipedia has a couple of decent articles on it.  I’ve taken some of my information from the Physician’s Desk Reference, one of the most common and reliable general guides to medicine available to the public.  And the vast majority of you didn’t bother to check any of these, much less learn enough to put together a reasonable opinion; you just listened to the media and decided.

(God help us, most of you probably vote, too.  You might reconsider that.  -Editor)

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQ) is a quinine preparation designed initially to fight resistant forms of malaria.  The side effects are generally worse than those of chloroquine and phosphoquine and it’s more difficult to produce in addition to being more toxic.  Like many drugs, it’s basically a poison that, at extremely low doses, kills off the disease slightly faster than it kills you.  Unless you’re allergic, in which case the opposite is true.

One of the side effects is, paradoxically, quite useful in treating certain clotting and immune disorders:  While it’s slowly poisoning you, it prevents inflammation while not greatly suppressing the immune system.  As such, it’s been prescribed off-label for chronic rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and even porphyria — which, we should mention, it exacerbates in roughly ten percent of cases.

Because of anecdotal evidence, it was initially considered as a potential treatment for some of the deadlier aspects of COVID-19, which in rare cases can induce a cytokine storm response in patients with comorbid immunity disorders.  Broad studies failed to confirm its general utility either as a prophylactic or a crisis treatment, and most of them have been canceled.  It does have some documented uses as an antiviral and an ionophore for zinc, but no effective treatment protocols have been satisfactorially demonstrated.

However, nobody disputes that it may be useful as a treatment in, for example, lupus patients who contract COVID-19 and are already taking HCQ.  None of the medical bans prevent it from being used in such instances, and it can be prescribed even after a COVID diagnosis to treat an underlying latent condition.

Nevertheless, using this to state that it’s useful for treating COVID-19 is like saying nitro tablets are effective against COVID when used by people with angina, or antibiotics are a COVID treatment when used by people with erysipelas.  It’s beyond disingenuous and well into criminally wrong given the state of our present medical knowledge.

One thing we do know, however, is that for many people, simpler anti-malarial quinine preparations will likely be equally effective but have fewer side effects and a lower chance of allergic reaction.  Chloroquine, for example, is cheaper and easier to manufacture, and is probably lethal less often than is its sulfated cousin.  In either drug, however, it should be remembered that the toxic dose is only slightly greater than the average prescribed dose.

“Took Cloroquine as a kid for a little while. Nasty, nasty stuff. We eventually all decided that we’d rather have malaria.”
-Daniel Garner, M.K.

And a final reminder:  The Not Fake News is not your doctor; we don’t even prescribe you drink tonic water (which contains quinine) except as a way to kill the taste of gin.

A note on personal bias — and bear in mind the following is pure speculation, only a step removed from unfounded gossip:  We know that Donald Trump has long been a fan of the therapeutic benefits of home tanning, and that his skin is presently a curious yellowish-orange.  During the 80s, when he first endorsed the medical benefits of tanning beds, it was rumored that Trump suffered from severe psoriasis and possibly porphyria.  It is, therefore, not unlikely that Mr. Trump has been taking quinine preparations for some years and is personally in favor of their use because he has personal knowledge.

(We mention this largely for the benefit of his fans, who may trust Trump rather more than they do The Not Fake News staff.  -Editor)

One further note— and this is very very important.  It’s up there with air raid sirens, tornado warnings, or the sound, audible in a darkened bedroom, of someone somewhere in your house cocking a weapon.  It cannot be overstated.

Much has been made of certain statements made by the AAPS, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which favor the broad use of HCQ in the treatment of this novel Coronavirus.  The position of The Not Fake News is as follows.

The AAPS is primarily a political organization that issues partisan propaganda.  The medical validity of any publication they issue is up there with “an apple a day”, with the caveat that eating apples may actually be good for some people.  Do not under any circumstances subscribe to their publications, give them money, or read their posts for any purpose other than debunking them.

When people use the words “Fake News”, there should be a picture of the AAPS logo next to them as an example.

It is our considered opinion that, even given First Amendment protections available in the United States, the management board of the AAPS should be tried for attempted mass murder. They should receive a speedy trial — perfectly fair — and be justly shot by a firing squad the following morning, their possessions sold at auction to create a fund to help the survivors of their advice, their names erased from history, and any ground they’ve planted salted to eradicate whatever seed they’ve used.

Please do not mistake us here.  We’re not using hyperbole, except possibly (but not necessarily) “the following morning”.

The Not Fake News runs on ramen noodles and copious amounts of caffeine, and we can always use more — particularly when we’re risking lawsuits from powerful lobbying organizations that spin lies for a living. If you at all appreciate our services, we urge you to either consider PayPal or

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The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a Free and Unrestrained Press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a Free Press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people.”
– Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court

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