Claim: Former president Donald Trump has claimed that the drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are possible treatments for COVID-19.
Rating: This claim is FALSE. Numerous health organizations — such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the World Health Organization — say that hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. Multiple medical studies have also shown that hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin is not effective in treating COVID-19.
Since March 19, 2020, former president Donald Trump has repeatedly asserted that hydroxychloroquine (and a similar drug chloroquine) are potential treatments for COVID-19, leading to increases in Google searches and purchases for the drugs.
Despite these claims, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin have not been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19. The FDA makes recommendations on COVID-19 treatments based on clinical trials where the medicine is tested on thousands of people, to make sure the drug is both effective and safe. Neither hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin have been proven to be effective and safe in treating COVID-19.
What is hydroxychloroquine?
Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are antimalarial drugs, used to treat and prevent malaria. Hydroxychloroquine was also developed to treat autoimmune diseases, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis — diseases where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the body.
Many studies show that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine is ineffective in treating patients with COVID-19.
During the Trump Administration, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine “showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery.” The FDA made this statement based on clinical trials where hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were tested in people hospitalized with COVID-19. The drugs did not have any effect on the coronavirus.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a medical research agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, led a clinical trial with 479 people. They found that “hydroxychloroquine does not benefit adults hospitalized with COVID-19.”
There is also a risk of heart problems associated with the use of the drugs. Dr. Oscar Cingolani, who works at notable research hospital John Hopkins, warned that, “Patients infected with COVID-19 often have compromised heart and vascular systems, and receive other drugs that can interact with hydroxychloroquine and can put patients at increased risk of arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.”
The NIH, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO), and many other expert medical organizations caution against using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19.
What is ivermectin?
Ivermectin is a drug that is used in both animals and humans. The drug has been approved by the FDA to treat parasites in animals. Ivermectin tablets are approved in very specific doses for humans to treat parasites, while ivermectin creams have been approved for head lice and skin issues like rosacea.
Ivermectin gained public attention when conservative outlets claimed that the drug is a potential treatment for COVID-19. As a result, there were large increases in the number of veterinary and human prescriptions of ivermectin, as well as an increase in overdoses from ivermectin and hospitalizations from people who were poisoned by ivermectin.
A recent study about ivermectin published in the respected medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, says that after scientists tested ivermectin on 679 COVID-19 patients, the drug was ineffective and did not help the patients get better.
According to the NIH, some studies have shown that ivermectin can keep the coronavirus from replicating. But that requires a dosage of ivermectin “up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans.” According to the FDA, a high dosage of ivermectin is “dangerous” and can lead to “nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma, and even death.”
Dr. Shawn Varney, who works at the University Hospital of San Antonio and is the director of the South Texas Poison Center, explains to the New York Times, “Everyone wants some cure for COVID because it’s such a devastating illness. I plead with people to stop using ivermectin and get the vaccine because it’s the best protection we have at this point. Everything else is risk after risk.”
Unlike ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, the COVID-19 vaccines have been thoroughly tested with thousands of patients to make sure they are safe and effective in preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19.
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Viet Fact Check has partnered with a number of community and health organizations to educate the Vietnamese-American community on the COVID-19 vaccine. The project is supported by: Progressive Vietnamese American Organization (PIVOT), Asian Health Services (AHS), the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Union of North American Vietnamese American Students (UNAVSA), Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Asian American Research Center on Health (ARCH) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO).