Who knew you could die?

Who knew you could die?

I have received several unflattering comments from my blogs regarding the need to direct medical care based on scientific evidence, not anecdotal stories. Finally, a well done randomized retrospective study, replete with p-values and confidence intervals, is undergoing peer-review for publication.

I have repeatedly called out President Trump and Fox News for promoting unsubstantiated claims about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Susceptible individuals have taken the drug and died, unethical doctors have sold it as part of a “coronavirus cure” at an exorbitant cost, and hoarding the medication has prevented those patients with autoimmune disease from receiving the medication.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest example of socialized medicine in this country. The veterans can be tracked anywhere in the country by a centralized computer system. This study is unique in that data were extracted from the Veterans Affairs Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI). The cohort was comprised of 386 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the VHA system across the United States.

The take home can be summed up in this one table. Even my grandmother would get this table— the patients that did NOT take hydroxychloroquine faired best and were the least likely to die.

The gold standard for dictating medical decisions is a randomized, prospective study— many which are under way currently.  Perhaps when it is all said and done, there may be benefit from chloroquine. But for the moment it should not be promoted in the treatment of COVID-19. And the leaders of this country, whether politicians or news organizations, should keep their mouths shut on public recommendations they have no expertise in.