We covered quite a bit of the horse-pill propaganda being peddled as a COVID cure by many in anti-vax circles and by some members of the Trump White House at the time when hydroxychloroquine first emerged as a word that people knew how to pronounce. It provided some dark comedic relief as an absurd storyline to chase during an otherwise very bleak and scary time. (Hydroxychloroquine, you’ll recall, would eventually be replaced in the vaccine-skeptic imagination by an actual livestock pill, ivermectin.)
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You get the picture.
The anti-malaria drug was flying off the shelves for months as Trump and some of those in his inner circle pushed the treatment as a cure for COVID-19. It never was. While it temporarily allowed the use of the drug as a form of symptom nursing, by April 2020 the FDA issued a warning against Trump’s favorite unproven cure, saying the meds were dangerous to use against COVID symptoms because they could cause life-threatening heart complications. Trump claimed he took it anyway to recover from his COVID-19 diagnosis.
It was just one layer of the Trump administration’s broader botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump and many of his allies hyped hydroxychloroquine as a cure primarily to downplay the severity of COVID — an effort birthed out of concerns over the damage a shut-down nation would inflict on the U.S. economy. But the COVID-19 public health mitigation measures were, of course, a matter of life and death.
We could read the writing on the wall back in 2020, but a new House panel report out today reveals what we saw unfold in real time — Trump White House staffers attempted to pressure the FDA and other U.S. health experts into reauthorizing hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment. The findings were all part of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis’s broader report on the Trump administration’s efforts to bypass the FDA for political purposes throughout much of the pandemic.
The report gets into the role that some of Trump’s favorite cable news commentators — like Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and Dr. Oz — had in pushing the White House to embrace the treatment in the first place. It also sheds light on the role Trump aide Peter Navarro and controversial doctor Steven Hatfill played in pressuring the “FDA and federal officials who they contended were wrongly impeding widespread access to hydroxychloroquine,” the report said.
Congressional investigators also found evidence that the Trump White House attempted to speed up the FDA’s health and safety studies in order to pressure the agency into authorizing the COVID-19 vaccine before the 2020 election.
You can read the report in full here.
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