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Lockdowns and social distancing may slow the spread of this pandemic, but they will not beat it. No emergency orders from our leaders can save us. Over time, only medicine will stop this threat. Our only hope is science.
At the moment, thousands of doctors, lab technicians, chemists and biologists are working to create effective treatments for coronavirus. At some point, they'll likely develop a vaccine for it. That could be a year from now, though.
In the meantime, researchers are taking a second look at drugs already in use for other diseases, and there have been, we're happy to tell you, some promising developments so far.
Favipiravir is a Japanese antiviral drug that's been used to treat influenza, among other things. An early clinical trial in China showed improved outcomes for those with mild cases of coronavirus.
Remdesivir is a drug originally created to fight Ebola. Scientists say it has shown promise, too. So have lopinavir and ritonavir, which are two HIV drugs. All of these medications are being studied right now in a major international trial. It's being overseen by the World Health Organization.
Here in our country, a drug called hydroxychloroquine has received by far the most attention. Hydroxychloroquine is most commonly used as an antimalarial medicine. You may have taken it if you traveled abroad. It's been approved for use in this country for 65 years. It is cheap. It's considered safe. A month's supply of it costs about 20 bucks.
So, in a lot of ways, hydroxychloroquine is the ideal medicine. If it turns out to be an effective treatment against coronavirus, things will change fast in this country and for the better.
At the very least we should all be following developments in hydroxychloroquine's use with interest and measured hope. Why wouldn't we be? Well, here's why: Donald Trump is for it.
Is it an effective treatment? We don't know that. Scattered reports from health care providers across the country, including in New York City, suggest that it may be. It is currently being prescribed in France, and at least one study suggests that it works.
In an interview on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that "of course" he'd be willing to try hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients if you were treating them directly. A patient in Florida credits the drug for his rapid turnaround.
More trials are currently underway, including one in New York, the epicenter of the outbreak here. This is how science works. It works incrementally in different places at the same time and in the end, effectively, if you let it.
At the very least we should all be following developments in hydroxychloroquine's use with interest and measured hope. Why wouldn't we be?
Well, here's why: Donald Trump is for it.
Several days ago, the president expressed confidence in hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the epidemic. That was it for the media. If Trump is for it, they're against it, even if it might save American lives. What reactive children they are. And they immediately began a sustained push to discredit the drug long before the clinical results were in.
CNN ran a story accusing the president of "peddling unsubstantiated hope in dark times." NBC News parroted the line, blasting Trump for selling "false hope."
Peter Alexander, NBC News White House correspondent: Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope and misrepresenting the preparedness right now?
President Trump: No, I don't think so. I think that it's got now --
Alexander: ... Now, with the not yet approved drug --
Trump: That's such a lovely question. Look, it may work and it may not work, and I agree with the doctor with what he said. It may work, it may not work. I feel good about it.
Well, in the midst of this propaganda blitz, a man in Arizona died after eating fish tank cleaner that contained chloroquine as an ingredient. And that was it.
This is what happens when science becomes political. Suddenly, people start lying, and you can't trust anything you hear. That's a very dangerous thing to do at a moment like this. The truth is essential.
Suddenly the president himself had all but murdered this poor guy with some quack medical cure called chloroquine. Here was CNN's description of it.
John Berman, CNN anchor: A game-changer -- that is how President Trump describes the antimalarial drug, chloroquine. It's now one of 69 drugs being investigated as a potential treatment against coronavirus.
The problem - it has not yet been approved, and in Arizona, one man has died after an apparent attempt to self-medicate with that drug.
So during the course of that segment, by the way, CNN never mentioned that the man ate aquarium cleaner and not medicine. They lied about the substantial -- in fact, the central -- facts of what happened because they thought it might advance a political agenda.
Then they informed viewers that Trump was also killing people in Nigeria.
David McKenzie, CNN correspondent: John, after President Trump touted the use of chloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19, three Nigerians have overdosed from that drug according to Nigerian health officials.
Now, keep in mind, this isn't a tax bill they're lying about. It's a potentially life-saving medicine that we are desperately trying to evaluate in the middle of a global pandemic.
And it's not just CNN that's doing it. Consider this Bloomberg news story from Tuesday night: "Chloroquine no better than regular coronavirus care, study finds." That was the headline and it sounds definitive. "Why are we wasting our time with this crap? It doesn't work."
But take a look at the details inside the piece. The story turns out to be based on an article in the Journal of Jiaxing University in China. The Chinese study in the article considered a total of just 15 patients -- 15 -- who have been given chloroquine.
It seems like an awfully small sample for a legitimate study. And in fact, the story does concede that it was. "The results of the study weren't statistically significant. Researchers concluded that additional studies using larger numbers of patients are needed."
In other words, the story doesn't really tell us anything.
So why is Bloomberg News writing about it? Later in the story, we learned that, in contrast to the protocol in that tiny Chinese study, doctors here in the West are administering hydroxychloroquine with antibiotics, and that combination -- the two of them hydroxychloroquine and antibiotics -- appears to be effective.
And that raises the same question once again: What exactly is the point of Bloomberg's so-called news story? The way the Chinese used the drug had nothing to do with the way we are using it here. The study is irrelevant. Writing about it doesn't illuminate anything. It misleads.
That's the point. They're manipulating you. This is what happens when science becomes political. Suddenly, people start lying, and you can't trust anything you hear. That's a very dangerous thing to do at a moment like this. The truth is essential.
On Tuesday, the governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, issued an emergency order that banned doctors in his state from prescribing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus unless it's administered in a hospital setting. Now, Sisolak is a politician; he's not a doctor. But he didn't hesitate to pronounce the drug "unproven" as a treatment for coronavirus.
Well, that's true as a technical matter. But doctors prescribe medicines in new ways all the time. It's called "off-label usage." It's legal and very common in places where Democratic governors don't decide to micromanage the details of medical care.
So why did this Sisolak do this? His statements suggest that hydroxychloroquine was somehow a threat to public health. But the real reason was likely the opposite of that. The governor was afraid of running out of it.
Pharmacists across the country have reported a large increase in requests for the drug. Some of the requests have come from doctors who appear to be stockpiling it for themselves and for their families. This resulted in shortages. That is a problem. And it's a problem for a number of reasons, including because the drug is also used to treat chronic diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
But there's one thing that it does prove conclusively: Donald Trump is not the only person who thinks hydroxychloroquine might be effective. A lot of practicing physicians think so, too.
Our leaders should be clear about that. And yet many of them are lying about it at a time when we are desperate for the truth. The thing we need, above all, is the truth.
Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on March 25, 2020.