Saturday, 23 May 2020


This whole topic is fascinating.

Donald Trump just plucked it apparently out of nowhere. Outlets like The Guardian poured scorn on the idea (this article is a joy to read). Some doctors say it helps or might help; others say it's nonsense. A lot of people say they took it with no side effects (but we'll never hear from those took it and died). Many small scale trials have had mixed or inconclusive results.

Ever the contrarian, I'd be delighted if it does help. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (or in Trump's case, a stopped calendar, he's right once a year). As a human being, I'd be delighted it they find anything that helps, I don't know or care what that might be.

However, it appears that some researchers are taking it seriously enough to do a very large scale trial. Possibly for the satisfaction of proving that Trump is an idiot, but hey. No experiment has ever 'failed'. You do them to find out whether anything happens and if so, what happens. So even if nothing happens or the opposite of what you expect happens, that experiment has not 'failed' on its own terms. It has advanced human knowledge, however slightly.

But... are these trials really necessary?

We've been running a large scale real-world trial for decades - the drug is regularly taken against malaria, and is taken by people suffering from lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Why don't we just go back and find out what the COVID-19 infection and death rates are among the hundreds or thousands (millions?) of people who are taking it anyway for other reasons?


View from the Solent said...

Mark, there is some evidence that hydroxychloroquine + a zinc supplement (eg zinc sulphate) has the effect of reducing SARS2 symptoms if it is taken early enough.
search on 'hydroxychloroquine zinc' for info

Hydroxy.... is a zinc ionophore, i.e it assists the transport of zinc ions into the body's cells and it would seem that the zinc does the heavy lifting against various diseases.

As you say, hydroxy... has been taken for years as a lupus treatment and a malaria prophylactic so its rare side effects are well understood.
Arguments that is generally dangerous are cobblers.

James James said...

Trump didn't pluck it out of nowhere, it was one thing various doctors tried early on, with apparent success in some cases.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Vfts, thanks. That's my impression.

JJ, aha, thanks. So why is The Guardian wetting its knickers over it?

DCBain said...

"why is The Guardian wetting its knickers over it?" That's because their level of competence sees it only as another way to get in a dig at the Ginja Ninja.

Dinero said...

Its got a name. Trump Derangement Syndrome , where media commentators who don't like Trump draw some unwarranted misinterpretation from something he said.
Similar to the thing about the question about dissinfectant. A search on Google Scholar shows plant derived anti viral inhalation studies have been done.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DCB and Din, I highly recommend you force yourself to read the G article, it is clearly frothing at the mouth gibberish. Perhaps it was written ironically to see if the G fell for it?

Nessimmersion said...

There have been three separate articles on Watts Up this month about this topic
One expands on the pseudoscience behind opposition to HCQ.
As Mark points out, there seems to be an an aversion to advertising the number of people on HCQ for other conditions amongst the establishment in some countries.
Turkey is especially interesting at the moment.

Mark Wadsworth said...

N, it appears to boil down to a simple divide

Alarmist v skeptic
Remainer v leaver
Lockdowner v HCQer

You'll find few who are two out of three. I'm a 3/3 myself.

If I have to pick a battle, it's LVT v Home-Owner-Ism. A battle which I will lose. But at least I go down knowing I was on the right side.

Dr Evil said...

It's not just HCQ.

Here's a preprint of a paper showing a decreased mortality and decrease in ventilator use with the three way treatment using hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin plus zinc

Mark Wadsworth said...

DrE, thanks. Also, it appears that the cheap and cheerful sleep apnœa masks help more than full on ventilators. Plus, patient does not need to be sedated

L fairfax said...

I first read about this on the BBC - before Trump mentioned it. China Daily mentioned 13 Feb - long before Trump suggested trying it
It is sad that people hope it doesn't work because they hate Trump more than they want lives to be saved.

L fairfax said...

One point I don't think it is always used against Malaria now.
I know that it isn't for some South American countries.

Mark Wadsworth said...

LF, maybe it isn't, but I read that in the USA, over 2 million people take it regularly (for whatever reason), that is a heck of a lot of test subjects and a fantastic sample size!!

L fairfax said...

I agree with you. I guess that they are unhealthier than others so it would not be a brilliant test - but saying that it would still show if this should be used or not.

Mark Wadsworth said...

LF, yes, users are unhealthier than the average, I'm sure they can adjust for that.