A noted medical expert threw cold water on the idea that the anti-malarial medication hydroxychloroquine is a game-changing coronavirus treatment on Monday, delivering a stark fact-check on Fox News, which has repeatedly pushed the theory along with President Donald Trump.
Fox News host Dana Perino asked biologist Dr. William Haseltine, who is president of ACCESS Health International and a former Harvard Medical School professor, to weigh in on the drug’s potential use as a treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“It’s sad, to me, that people are promoting that drug. We know already, from studies, at best it will have a very mild effect — at very best,” said Haseltine, who is well known for his groundbreaking research into cancer, genomics and HIV/AIDS.
The scientist noted that a number of studies conducted on the drug’s effects against coronavirus have yielded conflicting results and that its use against other viruses in the past has been ineffective. He also highlighted the life-threatening impact it could have on people taking other medications.
“It is not something to take unless a doctor prescribes it,” he said.
A day earlier, the president had reasoned that there was nothing to lose by trying the unapproved drug as a treatment, prompting multiple medical professionals to speak up about the many dangers of taking hydroxychloroquine when it’s not yet proven to work in this setting.
Fox anchor: Can you tell me your thoughts on the drug that is used normally to treat malaria.— Lis Power (@LisPower1) April 6, 2020
Dr. Haseltine: It's sad to me that people are promoting that drug.
Anchor: But what about the anecdotal evidence?
Haseltine: That's complete and utter nonsense. Irresponsible. pic.twitter.com/0YaGcS3MtH
Perino then brought up exaggerated claims about the drug’s efficacy that have been pushed by her Fox News colleagues.
“I know you don’t go by anecdotal evidence, but there are...