Discrediting Hydroxychloroquine Part II: Ignore the Science, Treat it as Snake Oil

This is the second part of The Definitive Guide to Discrediting Hydroxychloroquine-Based Treatments to COVID-19 – our facts based yet cynical / satirical article about all the tools used to discredit hydroxychloroquine. While already published on April 23, but available to Patrons only, it has been updated, to incorporate the important development, described in the “Just Ignore the Science” section. If you have not read the first part yet, you can find it here.


The level of disingenuity for discrediting hydroxychloroquine-based treatments reached new heights on April 29. On that date, the prestigious The Lancet medical journal published the results of a peer-reviewed randomized research, concluding that “remdesivir was not associated with statistically significant clinical benefits.” The article is co-authored by 46 medical doctors, university professors and researchers, mostly from China, but also from Singapore, the UK and Australia. A co-author to be particularly noted is Prof. Peter W Horby, MD, who is Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Oxford University.

In any normal circumstances, this would have nailed the coffin of remdesivir as a therapy for COVID-19. But the anti-hydroxychloroquine forces are resourceful and powerful. Shortly after the publication of The Lancet article, at the Oval Office, Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House Medical Advisor, spoke about ongoing, non-published, non-peer reviewed research, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases which he directs. “The mortality rate trended towards being better … It has not yet reached statistical significance but the data needs to be further analyzed.” “The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover… It’s highly significant” “We think looking forward this is very optimistic…”

Dr Fauci did not precisely indicate the number of deaths in his ongoing research, involving about 1090 patients, but on the basis of the mortality levels he stated, it can be estimated at over 100 deaths. Fauci of course did not draw any parallel with the groundbreaking study by Professor Didier Raoult, relying hydroxychloroquine-based treatment, which resulted in only 5 deaths out of 1061 patients. 

While The Lancet research and the ongoing one referred to by Dr Fauci suggest the therapy is not yielding lower mortality than placebo, that did not prevent him from establishing a new “standard of care” in the US.

“Whenever you have clear-cut evidence that a drug works, you have an ethical obligation to immediately let the people who are in the placebo group know, so that they can have access. And all of the other trials that are taking place now have a new standard of care,” he asserted.

Dr Fauci was successful in convincing President Trump and the Food and Drug Administration about the supposed merits of the drug, which was awarded emergency use authorization by the FDA on May 1.

“The emergency use authorization allows for remdesivir to be distributed in the U.S. and administered intravenously by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease.” See details about the unbelievable events of April 29 here.


The randomized control trial methodology calls for a control group, and this is typically composed of patients who receive, without knowing it, glorified sugar pills or something similar, instead of a treatment. The research conducted by Professor Raoult and his team is  facing pushback from the science community for the so-called retrospective methodologies used in the trials.

The Marseille researchers, since they learned around early March from research made in China that hydroxychloroquine was useful to treat COVID-19 patients, rapidly concluded they could not ethically, and medically, use “placebo patients.” Giving placebos sends to more likely death sick patients, facing a mortal disease, by failing to give them a real treatment.

Most COVID-19 therapy researchers worldwide are much less concerned about this fundamental ethical issue, and proceed with randomized controlled trials with placebo-fed control groups. It is this type of researchers who typically insist there is no effective cure, in part because they don’t want to be liable for having misled the patients or their families when obtaining their written consent prior to the participation in the randomized trial.

So there is an element that has nothing to do with the actual effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine-based treatment that is at stake. If a researcher involved in a randomized controlled trial were to admit that hydroxychloroquine actually works, it would be like admitting the volunteer patients in the randomized trial were misled, as officially, there is no effective treatment, and that’s what volunteer patients or their family sign for in consent forms they have to sign. If effective treatment is admitted, the whole research protocol may need to be interrupted.

There is potentially huge liability at stake. Simply think about these large trials with 1300 volunteers participating, receiving either non-effective treatment or placebo. And there are over 1000 trials world wide, in the WHO database. So it’s not only convenient but maybe even necessary to discredit the research done in Marseille, on the basis that it does not use controlled placebo-fed control groups. 


In our societies, appearance is obviously very important. And everyone has instantly become an expert in social distancing and in the to dos and don’ts in terms of personal behaviour vis-à-vis the virus. Comments about the appearance of Professor Raoult abound. One category of comments relate to his luxurious Rolex watch – oh no it’s just a red and white swatch. It’s unbelievable to some that such a great expert in infectiology would wear such a cheap watch. And yes he does it.

Another area for polemical discussion is his menacing skull and cross bones ring on his pinkie finger. Skull rings are typical popular symbols for free spirits like rockers or bikers, which does not fit that well with the profile of the #1 expert in the world in infectious diseases – according to Expertscape. Other theories float about his ring being a freemasonry symbol, and wearing it on on his pinkie finger is seen as a form of personal statement. Actually, in a recent interview, Professor Raoult responded to a question about his ring, and alluded to a “lucidity principle” regarding life and death…

There are also comments about how he dares touching his beard and hair during interviews. We are not supposed to do that if we follow strictly what is demanded, as it may spread the virus, can be read online.

Despite all these oddities, Professor Raoult is becoming popular in France, and so is hydroxychloroquine. According to an April 10 poll by IFOP, 98% of the French people have now heard about hydroxychloroquine, and 59% believe it’s an effective treatment, while 21% don’t know and 20% consider it non efficient. Another IFOP poll indicates that a majority 54% of people in France don’t trust the Macron government for dealing with COVID-19. So I let you connect the dots here.

What’s clear is that hydroxychloroquine politics in France are very different from those in the US, where it’s the president pushing for it, even if not that strongly lately, and not a leading scientist.

And then you have places like Canada for example, where the full popular and political focus is on confinement, where hydroxychloroquine-based early treatment is essentially denied to the population as the governmental department “Health Canada” follows very much Dr Fauci’s line and insists that hydroxychloroquine “can have serious side effects.

In all provinces, except New Brunswick, Raoult’s early hydroxychloroquine-based treatment is unavailable to those suffering from COVID-19, except maybe if you participate in a clinical trial …where many are served either placebo, or a sub-optimal hydroxychloroquine treatment.

The pandemic continues to rage, in particular in Ontario and Quebec, but the treatment is simply denied, including to the elderly in the many contaminated nursing homes, where case fatality rates are considerable and where effective hydroxychloroquine-based treatment could easily be deployed.

In Canada, as Professor Raoult’s work is barely known, there is then not even a need to allude to his watch, his ring or him touching his beard to discredit him. He is just ignored.


One of the earliest reactions to the possible use of hydroxychloroquine-based treatment for COVID-19 referred to the usage of the medication for conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Daily doses of between 400 and 800 mg are typically administered for such conditions, on a long term basis, which can be contrasted with their use for COVID-19, which will typically use similar dosages yet not exceed 10 days. 

“Due to the recent yet-to-be-proven claims of effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine sulfate against COVID-19 and the growth in prescribing for it, we are now faced with a very serious shortage (and some brands, outages) of the product. This presents very serious challenges for long-term continuity of care for patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus,” collectively stated in late March the Ontario Pharmacists Association, the Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

Similar statements were issued throughout Canada. There are abundant messages on social media that hydroxychloroquine should be for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. In other words, deny for a “yet-to-be-proven” short-term use to potentially save lives of people having contracted COVID-19. Much more useful would have been for these associations to immediately investigate whether patients using hydroxychloroquine for lupus or rheumatoid arthritis in Canada are indeed not developing COVID-19 symptoms, like it was reported in China and is now being investigated in the USA.

What was not mentioned in the position statements by these professional associations is that the hydroxychloroquine shortages were actually due, at least in part, to stockpiling by medical professionals, for their own use, as was reported by CBC on March 27. The situation was so bad that sanctions were introduced against those stockpiling hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

Yes many medical professionals have now the drugs for themselves in Canada, but at the same time, they deny the potentially life-saving treatment to the populace, providing support to the position of the federal government we should wait for a vaccine and mostly confine in the meantime. Hydroxychloroquine-based treatment is “yet-to-be-proven,” of course …



The position of the World Health Organization is pretty clear: there is no proven treatment for COVID-19. It’s all made clear on its page “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth Busters” which can be found at this link. It reads: “Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus? To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.”

This WHO guidance is found among other particularly important information such as “5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19”; “Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous” and a response to the crucial question: “can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?”

With over 1000 studies worldwide, either ongoing or foreseen, WHO’s position is consistent with the position of many researchers involved in WHO sponsored studies, who cannot admit publicly that hydroxychloroquine-based treatments work. Indeed, as discussed above, many trials rely on the consent of volunteer patients, to whom research medical personnel have supposedly to provide thorough and complete information about the existence of treatments, so that patients can sign the consent being duly informed.

If WHO would recognize the results of a clinical trial such as the one by Professor Raoult and his team, on 1061 patients, this would mean that most of the ongoing WHO sponsored research, through the SOLIDARITY, DISCOVERY, RECOVERY and other programs, would need to be interrupted, or at the very minimum profoundly revised.

There are also many commercial interests at stake, and as hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are cheap generic drugs, there may not be such a great interest for some at WHO to recognize such treatment. And of course, there are also the vast commercial interests in vaccines, which benefit from the absence of recognized treatments to COVID-19.

The World Health Organization has not only found an ally in Lady Gaga with its “One World: Together At Home” concert, but also in Facebook, which will now “begin showing notifications to users who have interacted with posts that contain “harmful” coronavirus misinformation.” “ “We want to connect people who may have interacted with harmful misinformation about the virus with the truth from authoritative sources in case they see or hear these claims again off of Facebook,” said Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice-president of integrity, in a blogpost.

The warned Facebook users will be directed to WHO’s “myth busters” page and its assertion that “there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus,” despite substantial scientific evidence to the contrary, from France, Brazil and elsewhere. Facebook also relies “on its third-party factchecking system.” “If a factchecker rates a claim false, Facebook then adds a notice to the post, reduces its spread, alerts anyone who shared it, and discourages users from sharing it further.”




Ignoring what is happening elsewhere in the world is another part of the toolbox of those discrediting hydroxychloroquine. An example of this was provided on April 22 by William Hanage, an Harvard academic, previously with Imperial College London, well known for its epidemiology department headed by the controversial (yet proven 🙂 epidemiologist Neil Ferguson. Hanage was the academic who had rightfully questioned in the Guardian newspaper on March 15 the macabre herd immunity strategy of Boris Johnson and the UK government, which was ultimately reversed but which probably has already cost many lives in the UK.

Asked during a conference call about the situation in Marseille, where there is widespread free testing (10% of the city’s population to date) and immediate medical treatment with  hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin available for those who need it, for example at IHU Marseille, he was dismissive. He questioned the credibility of Professor Raoult, who has talked in several interviews about the reduction in the number of patients needing treatment in Marseille, as well as the reductions in predicted deaths, according to various forecasts.

The English Harvard academic, who insisted throughout his presentation that the pandemic was just at its very beginning, referred to “stretching credulity” when it came to those suggesting there could be any improvement in Marseille.


The media frenzy against hydroxychloroquine started already a month ago. Unproven, controversial are the code words being used to describe the treatment. Bloomberg informed that “malaria drug chloroquine no better than regular coronavirus care.” MSNBC constantly refers to the therapy as unproven. CNN shares the same view, but also insists that side effects could even be worse than the symptoms. CNN’s web edition referred to the drug as “unsubstantiated hope in dark times.”

But there can be exceptions, such as CNN-Brazil, who interviewed Dr Nice Yamaguchi, PhD, who has numerous publications and has previously acted as deputy to the Minister of Health in Brazil, strongly argues in favour of hydroxychloroquine as a way to treat patients and contain the epidemic. But who cares about CNN-Brazil?


The #chloroquinegate hashtag has recently appeared on Twitter. After all, would all of this be some form of Russian propaganda? With the widespread media blackout for any positive stories regarding hydroxychloroquine-based treatments, the Russian government funded international television network RT did broadcast a video, that went viral, about a French lady Laura Puset, who provides a testimonial about how she was successfully treated for COVID-19 in Marseille, by Professor Raoult’s team.

The RT video has some 2.8 million views on Facebook, and over 300,000 views on YouTube. https://www.facebook.com/RTFrance/videos/vb.1536715766560953/205084017422234/?type=2&theater


That one does not require any explanation. 

Yet, you may read about how the condition known as “Trump Derangement Syndrome” may be an explanation to why hydroxychloroquine is being so much discredited.

And if you like this style of facts based yet somewhat satirical articles, don’t miss this one either: