By Dr. Chidinma Chima-Melton MD, MBA, Afro World News
Like you, I too saw the incredibly troubling viral video of Dr. Stella Immanuel, Dr. Simone Gold and 8 other doctors at the steps of the US Supreme Court in Washington D.C. sprouting false self-aggrandizing propaganda. As a Nigerian-American pulmonary and critical care doctor, I felt it my duty to speak up as their dangerous and incorrect message may cost the lives of innocent people around the world. I work in one of the U.S top medical centers and have treated many patients critically ill with COVID-19. To make sure that I provide up to date, evidence-based yet compassionate care to my patients, I carefully review the medical literature. I am writing this article because I feel my silence is complicit and I have a moral and professional duty to speak out against the misinformation and the harm done by Dr. Immanuel, Dr. Gold and her colleagues who call themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors”, although it is not clear that any of them are actually working on the front line.
Dr. Immanuel in this video makes a passionate yet poorly informed plea that a combination of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc is the “cure” to COVID-19 so people do not need to wear mask or socially distance. She touts the unfounded statistic that she has treated over 300 people with COVID-19 who all survived with this cocktail. I do not know Dr. Immanuel personally but I do know that she is a pediatrician and it is highly unlikely that her scope of practice allows her to treat adult patients with COVID-19 so we need to be very skeptical of her claim.
The drug in question here is hydroxychloroquine – normally used to treat malaria and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
When we look at the evidence, we see that large study https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.15.20151852v1after study https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2016638 and after study https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2019014shows no benefit of hydroxychloroquine in saving lives of people with COVID-19.
In fact, a large trial called the RECOVERY study run by U.K. researchers demonstrated that COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine tended to do worse. They spent more time in the hospital and were also at a greater risk of dying or needing to be on life support.
Now that I have convinced you that hydroxychloroquine does not work for treating patients with COVID-19, what do we know works?
In the scientific community, we have found a commonly available old drug called dexamethasone helps save the lives of people with severe COVID-19 infections. Another medication Remdesivirhttps://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2007764 (which was used in treating other serious coronaviruses like SARS and MERS) reduces the amount of days patients are hospitalized with COVID-19. There are other candidate drugs that may potentially help and studies are in progress.
The medical field is constantly changing, and my practice today is very different from where it was just a few months ago when the pandemic started in the U.S. With each passing day doctors get better at treating people very sick with COVID-19 and I too am holding out hope for a cure but sadly hydroxychloroquine just isn’t it.
Until a cure arrives the old saying applies in that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I strongly urge you to continue with what we know works – wear your face mask when around people you do not live with, socially distance, avoid group gatherings and wash your hands frequently. Being vigilant is the only way that you and I can protect those we love and safely make it to the other side of this pandemic.
Dr. Chidinma Chima-Melton MD, MBA received her medical degree from Stony Brook University School of Medicine, New York. She completed her training in Internal Medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She practices in Los Angeles California at UCLA Health.Source: Afro World News