On Tuesday, a video of Houston-based primary care physician Dr. Stella Immanuel making bold claims about hydroxychloroquine went viral. Hydroxychloroquine is the anti-malaria drug initially touted as an effective COVID-19 treatment.

In the video, Dr. Immanuel claimed to have personally treated more than 350 COVID-19 patients with underlying conditions using the drug, “and we’ve not lost one.” Speaking in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building with other doctors, she claimed that no one should fear the coronavirus because it has a cure. “It is called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax,” she said, adding that the Americans had only been tricked by a massive disinformation campaign intended to hide the truth about the drug.

It can be recalled that the hydroxychloroquine became a household word earlier this year, when Donald Trump started to tout the drug as a possible COVID-19 treatment. At the time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized hydroxychloroquine for emergency use, meaning the U.S. could stockpile and distribute it to treat COVID-19 patients.

Prior to that, a hospital in France administered hydroxychloroquine to 20 COVID-19 patients and compared their progress to other patients who did not receive the same treatment. The result of the observational study was positive. Around the same time, doctors in a Wuhan hospital also found that patients who received hydroxychloroquine did better than those who did not.

Despite Trump being vocal with his support for the use of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 patients, however, White House infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned that rigorous testing was still needed to determine if hydroxychloroquine really worked. Following his recommendation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced in June that a randomized trial in U.K. had been stopped due to lack of solid evidence that would prove the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. “While there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with COVID-19,” concluded the study.

Another randomized study that same month, which sought to prove that the hydroxychloroquine could be an effective prophylactic for COVID-19 patients, also came up empty-handed. “After high-risk or moderate-risk exposure to COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness compatible with COVID-19 or confirmed infection when used as postexposure prophylaxis within 4 days after exposure,” the study claimed.

It remains unknown whether Dr. Immanuel’s claims about the hydroxychloroquine are true but as far as recent randomized trials are concerned, there is no evidence that the drug is an effective coronavirus treatment. On June 15, the FDA officially revoked authorization of hydroxychloroquine for emergency use.

COVID-19 COVID-19 around the world. Photo by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay