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Hydroxychloroquine: Yay or Nay?

The day the news broke about hydroxychloroquine broke online from a European news source my family was sitting in the living room and I was scrolling through my news feed. The article jumped out at me and as I was sharing with the family, I hopped over to Wikipedia to look for the origins of the medication. It was in the back of my mind and when I saw the "quine", I wondered if it had originated from quinine and of course, used to treat malaria (thank you to all of the historical fiction authors out there). Many drugs have a basis in traditional Earth remedies and this was yet another. And, many drugs we know that are effective for one disease or malady later are found to be effective for others later on.

I'll be honest, I cannot put my finger on the first article I read, but many came later and I am linking to a CNN article (CNN haters, hang with me) which is one of many that had fairly neutral reviews of the drug. I say "neutral" as they point out the errors in the French study while sharing that doctors and also scientists are saying it needs a second look in a more scientific environment. What was the problem? While there were several issues with the French study, the primary issue is that for those who dropped out of the study due to either inability to tolerate the HCQ or dropped out due to lack of improvement and wanting to be taken off the drug, those patients data was not included in the delivered results, which skewed the data. I was actually quite excited when I read the initial article as I love that we may have the means to support Covid patients, and at the same time knew, or suspected as an armchair analyst, that a study like this was really too fast to be conclusive and would need further study to administer to large numbers of patients.

Now, the interesting part of of this is that HCQ has been tested for coronaviruses as far back as 2002 in China and there have been several in vitro (cell studies in a lab) for SARS that had promising results. China once again began using and testing this drug in January as they had used it during the SARS outbreak. In 2005 The National Institute of Health reported that the use of hydroxychloroquine could potentially inhibit the spread as well as lessen the impact of coronoviruses, specifically SARS. The efficacy of HCQ is not as clear with SARS C19.

Why might hydroxychloriquine work? How can it help? Is it a preventative or a cure? Hydroxychloriquine is a known malaria preventative (malaria is parasitic) and treatment (though not prescribed as much as in the past). It is also known to support people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and this is why it's important to Covid-19. It is sold under the name Plaquenil. You may have seen the ads. HCQ is effectively a drug that modulates the immune system. In other words, it's an anti-inflammatory drug. This is important for folks with serious inflammation issues that come from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Think of it like a steroid or using ibuprofin to help with inflammation after an injury. When patients come into the hospital with Covid-19 they are dealing with lung and often whole system inflammation. They understand that for some reason, C19 is creating a situation in the body where the immune system is over-responding. HCQ assists in calming the response. If you have read about cytokine storm, then you'll understand why HCQ could possibly assist those whose body is essentially over-responding to the virus causing extreme inflammation. This could potentially allow Azithromycin (Zpac) to work to combat the actual virus or at least to prevent pneumonia from setting in to the lungs. Some doctors are also concerned that prohibiting the immune response can cause harm in other ways.

Issues with the use of azithromycin with HCQ exist. I won't go far into this, but it is actually may be the Zpac, not the HCQ that causes heart arythmia in Covid patients. It is interesting that heart conditions are not listed as side-effects, though near the bottom of all that I read about HCQ and Plaquenil there is a statement to call your doctor if you experience a pounding chest or increased heart rate. There is a LONG STANDING heart related caution against Zpac. There is a looming question at the moment if patients have under-lying issues or is it the extreme inflammation being reported, which is why the FDA is issuing caution on prescribing HCQ and Zpac to Covid19 patients. The combination of the drugs has caused heart issues for some patients. Chicken or egg??? On a side note, the possible assistance of azithromycin to treat C19 and other coronaviruses is interesting as it has no impact on colds or the flu and is not recommended in those cases.

What about clinical trials? China researchers and doctors again pulled out HCQ for Covid19 in January. They began running trials and additional trials have been running in Brazil, France, America and in other countries since. The trials have shown mixed results. Some results are positive for mild to medium cases. Some are negative for more severely ill cases. I urge you to read through at least the conclusion of clinical trials from various health institutes, including the NIH and see that there is vast conflicting data that largely stems from fast tracked studies in an effort to grasp at cures of this disease that seems to present new data each day.

Why has HCQ become a political issue? Why are conspiracy theoriests and conservative news outlets singing its praises? Why are liberal news agencies and those who hate the President calling foul? I think the simplest answer is we have a sitting President whose language has evoked the greatest division of our nation. His casual mention of HCQ in a press conference in March 19 as a potential cure endangered the supply chain and has prevented people (including people I know) to have issues getting the drug for current prescriptions to treat their lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. The VA, among others, placed large orders for the medicine (6.3 million tablets) and doctors with no evidence (including those who work in nursing homes) began to willy-nilly prescribe it to their patients as both preventative and cure. The President has a RESPONSIBILITY to the people to not only give accurate information, but to understand the weight he carries when speaking. Actually, President Trump does understand and uses his words (in my opinion) very deliberately and knowingly. He has professed his love of stirring things up and seems to thrive on being right or at least lauded as correct by his base. It was irresponsible to release this information in a press conference without the FDA issuing recommendations to pharmaceutical makers, pharmacies and doctors on prescriptions of this drug and ensuring those already on HCQ could get their standing prescriptions filled. Furthermore, conservative news outlets and conspiracy theorists have been speaking of HCQ as the cure as an indicator of how Trump is our savior (just after and in some cases before Jesus) without giving any of the information on the science of how and why it may or may not work and conspiracy theorists believe the resistance to using the drug indicates liberal attempts to control Americans.

What about the critics? I have been quite stunned at my liberal friends who have criticized the use of HCQ and repeatedly called the President an idiot for suggesting it may be a preventative or cure. I educated more than one friend who are Trump-haters with the science and articles from reliable news sources that I know they trust. Would we have an entire portion of our nation refuse to support the use of a life-saving drug simply because of who suggested it? Would they turn it down if it were offered while in the hospital fighting Covid19? There are indicators from some trials that HCQ can be used as a means to stop the spread of coronaviruses. This has only been tested in cells in a lab (in the studies I read).

At the end of the day, a few things to note. HCQ has been a drug of interest in this type of virus since 2002, so it's not a new idea that it is a potential treatment and it was a good idea to revisit it to stop the spread and cure Covid19. The jury is still out on its effectiveness and it certainly is not suitable for all humans. It's combination with Zpac could cause serious adverse side effects in many either due to underlying conditions or severe inflammation caused by C19. The President should be more responsible in touting its use and his critics should use their critical thinking skills to do research and move beyond constantly being angry when he opens his mouth. There are other preventatives and cures and I'm intrigued by the MATH+ method being used by some physicians and recently shared with the Department of Homeland Security.

I hope in reading this you will find answers and at least a somewhat unbiased view of HCQ and get beyond the political talking points used by both sides and alllow you to make your own decisions about how you view HCQ and whether or not you want to have it administered to you based on your own health if you were to be admitted to the hospitals with C19. My intent was to list all of the studies I have read through. But, I'm going to leave it to you to find the studies (not news articles) and educate yourself on the science of HCQ. We are in an ever changing situation with new data and information being shared daily. Stay awake and peace to you.

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