Last week, a group of medical professionals calling themselves America’s Frontline Doctors stood in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and insisted that hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for the coronavirus despite medical studies to the contrary.
In addition to that claim about the anti-malarial drug, their press conference also pushed such potentially harmful misinformation as the idea that mask-wearing isn’t necessarily a good choice. A day later, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly met with the doctors.
As Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, has said repeatedly, there’s little concrete evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective as a COVID-19 treatment ― even if President Donald Trump continues to promote it. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration warned against using hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, following reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” and other health issues in those who received the drug.
Still, in part thanks to a retweet by the president, the doctors’ clip went viral. It racked up tens of millions of views, even in the face of a widespread effort by social media companies to remove the video and penalize some who shared it, including presidential son Donald Trump Jr.
What may have been more startling, though, was what the news media found out about Stella Immanuel, the doctor who led the press conference. Immanuel, who works as a primary care physician and pastor in Houston, doesn’t just believe hydroxychloroquine is a valid coronavirus treatment. She also believes that gynecological issues like endometriosis and cysts are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches, that alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments and that gay Americans practice “homosexual terrorism.” Online, Immanuel hawks a prayer she claims can remove “generational curses” passed on from ancestors and transmitted through the placenta.