President Trump’s poll numbers are on the rise as a strong majority of Americans now approve of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the crisis, Trump has increasingly shifted away from his trademark opponent-attacking mode to taking on the role as the nation’s “encourager-in-chief,” likely part of the reason public opinion of his handling of the job has improved.
Right on cue, the editorial board of The Washington Post published an editorial Wednesday warning the paper’s readers that some of the hope Trump has been offering the nation is actually “false” and doing great “damage.”
“Trump is spreading false hope for a virus cure — and that’s not the only damage,” declared the headline of the Post’s editorial published Wednesday. That “false hope,” the Post says, is Trump’s comments about a potential treatment for COVID-19 involving the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.
The Post offers some background on why many (including Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo) have looked to hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus:
“Not so fast,” writes the Post’s snarky editorial board. “Such success does not usually occur overnight. Widespread testing for drug safety and efficacy is essential. The French result does not mean this drug is ready for use against the coronavirus, nor should a world ridden with anxiety about pandemic illness and death rest its hopes on this unproven possibility. There may be a ‘wonder’ drug at the end of the rainbow, but we are not there yet.”
To fully know if the drug combination is an effective treatment, the Post explains, “controlled clinical trials would be required before a drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration: Phase 1 to determine overall safety and dosage; Phase 2 (about 100 people) to see if effective and safe compared with other compounds; Phase 3 (a large group) to test efficacy and side effects.”
But hasn’t hydroxychloroquine already been approved for treatment of malaria? Yes, the Post notes, but it hasn’t been approved for use on coronavirus. “Scientists are still arguing over how the drug attacks the malaria parasite. No one is sure how it might work against viruses,” the editorial board notes. “Besides, there are potentially serious side effects: irreversible retinal damage and cardiac failure in some patients.”
But just because the treatment hasn’t been adequately tested and officially approved, is it necessarily a “false hope” that is doing “damage”? The Post insists it is, blaming Trump’s “overhyping” of the potential treatment for “hoarding of hydroxychloroquine and diverted supplies from people with other maladies who need it.” The only true cure, the Post says, is going to be a vaccine.