(295733)

“In the past few months, after taking in over 350 patients, we have not lost one. Not a diabetic, not somebody with high blood pressure, not somebody with asthma, not an old person. We’ve not lost one patient.

—Dr. Stella Immanuel

President Donald Trump abruptly ended a coronavirus briefing last week, following a question by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins regarding his recent tweets, in which he reposted a video of Dr. Stella Immanuel, which his son Donald Jr. first shared on July 27, writing that it was a “must watch.”

By the next day, the president and his eldest son also shared now-deleted clips on Twitter, where the video trended. It went viral and was viewed more than 13 million times before it was removed from FaceBook and YouTube.

In the video, Immanuel passionately supports hydroxychloroquine for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Trump still says that the drug is “very positive,” though his own top infectious diseases adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said there was only “anecdotal evidence” of the drug’s effectiveness.

“I’m a true testimony,” Immanuel said. “This virus has a cure: Hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax.”

The Cameroon-born and Nigerian-educated Immanuel said she had used Hydroxychloroquine in Africa before to treat malaria. In the video, she said she is a primary care physician and works in her clinic, the Rehoboth Medical Center, located in Houston, Texas. Our Weekly’s repeated phone calls to the center went unanswered.

The clinic’s website states:

“The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] has revoked its emergency use authorization restricting the use of hydroxychloroquine in hospital settings only. It was not found to be effective in sick hospital patients. Doctors however can use it in outpatient care where early treatment is key to its effectiveness…”.

The FDA issued a warning against the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 after reports of a number of deaths and severe poisonings began to surface.

In the video, Immanuel chided American physicians and pharmaceutical companies who decry the use of hydroxychloroquine.

“All this foolishness does not need to happen,” she said. “You want a double-blind study where people are dying. It’s unethical.”

The Washington D.C. news conference featured a group calling itself “America’s Frontline Doctors,” which held a summit on July 27 and 28 to dispel what they call the “massive disinformation campaign” about COVID-19. The event was organized by the Tea Party Patriots, according to reports.

The Tea Party Patriots described the event as: “Physicians from around the country address the American people about COVID-19 and the importance of reopening schools and our society.”

This position is in contrast to the safety issues raised by the FDA, who cautioned against using hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients. The National Institute for Health (NIH) adopted a similar position and halted its clinical trial of the drug, finding that it provided no benefits. The drug has historically been used to treat malaria.

Dr. Eric Alcouloumre, an emergency room physician in Newport Beach, was recently quoted in the Los Angeles Times regarding Immanuel, who, by all reports, also specializes in alien DNA and demon seed. Alcouloumre has no respect for her claims or those of her colleagues.

“They are an embarrassment to the medical profession, are dangerous and in my humble opinion are behaving unethically and contributing to the suffering and death we are facing from COVID.”

Amiee Kushner from San Francisco, relies on hydroxychloroquine to treat her lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Kushner has had the prescription for three years and has never had a problem getting refills. All that changed when Trump began promoting the drug as a treatment for COVID-19, causing her insurance to stop prescribing it for her and other non-COVID-19 patients nationwide.

“He’s created a situation where there is a run on this drug,” Kushner said in a May video released by The Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Trump’s controversial suggestion came under scrutiny as studies began to show that COVID-19 patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine could experience harmful side effects such as blindness or heart problems and that they had higher mortality rates than patients who were not treated with the drug.

The most comprehensive study to date found the drug ineffective as a treatment, with increased rates of death.

“Telling people to prophylactically take this drug that has extreme side effects is totally dangerous. It requires a lot of doctor supervision,” Kushner said. “It’s being taken out of the hands of people who actually need it.” 

In spite of Immanuel’s anecdotal evidence, hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with other drugs is not a proven treatment (or cure) for COVID-19.

“It is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of HCQ and CQ may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks,” FDA Chief Scientist Denise M. Hinton wrote.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also stopped their hydroxychloroquine studies. Among the safety issues associated with treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine include heart rhythm problems, kidney injuries and liver problems.

Kaiser Health News states that while some studies have found that the drug could help alleviate symptoms associated with COVID-19, the research is not conclusive. Few studies have been accepted into peer-reviewed journals. And large, randomized trials — the gold standard for clinical trials — are still needed to confirm the findings of studies conducted since the pandemic began.

In the video, Immanuel cited a 2005 study that found chloroquine — not hydroxychloroquine — was “effective in inhibiting the infection and spread of SARS CoV,” the official name for severe acute respiratory syndrome. But the drug was not tested on humans, the authors wrote that more research was needed to make any conclusions, and SARS is different from COVID-19.

Health officials advise everyone to wear a mask in public. The reason has to do with how the coronavirus spreads. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they expel respiratory droplets containing the virus. Those droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.

Since some people infected with the coronavirus may exhibit no symptoms, public health officials say everyone should cover their face in public — even if they don’t feel sick.

“The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth face coverings are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.