Amidst the worldwide race in search of a cure to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), hydroxychloroquine has previously gained attention. However, despite several studies which have proven its ineffectivity against the virus, the drug is once again going viral in social media.
Hydroxychloroquine has been very controversial since the search for the cure to the disease that brought the current health crisis began. It is an anti-malarial drug which has been widely used as a therapeutic drug against autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. But, despite the noise that it has made in the early stages of the pandemic as a possible cure to COVID-19, several studies have proven that it hydroxychloroquine does not have antiviral properties that could cure the disease.
Why is it going viral again?
Despite the scientific proof that the drug cannot cure COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine is once again making rounds in social media. According to CNET, the trend once again started after several videos that were published about the drug were widely shared in social media platforms Twitter and Facebook.
The videos that have been circulation featured physicians who identified themselves as "America's Frontline Doctors" who advocate the use of hydroxychloroquine to cure COVID-19 just outside the supreme court on Monday.
One particular physician who was Stella Immanuel who is also a preacher. Immanuel stated that she has used hydroxychloroquine in almost 350 patients who visited her clinic and the results were promising.
The video of Immanuel was even retweeted by US President Donald Trump, according to Daily Mail. As a result, the follower count of Immanuel's personal account blew up to more than 30,000 in just a span of hours.
However, as part of the social media outlet's fight in mitigating unsubstantiated information, the videos were taken down from both Twitter and Facebook.
Immanuel's arguments about hydroxychloroquine have also been widely criticized since it uses unscientific language in defending the drug. According to the University of Sydney's head of the Sydney Pharmacy School, Andrew McLachlan, Immanuel's argument mainly contained anecdote and passion which do not provide proof of the drug's efficacy and safety in preventing and treating COVID-19.
In addition, McLachlan also noted that as one of the most investigated drugs in terms of finding a cure for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine has not shown benefit for COVID-19 patients in hospitals nor did it make a difference with the mortality rate. Yet the drug continues to be pushed by some groups as a viable option in treating the disease.
Back in June, the US Food and Drug Administration has already revoked the usage of hydroxychloroquine in treating patients with COVID-19. The said FDA ruling came after evidence that the drug has no clinical benefits to the patients and may also lead to complications such as heart problems.
Moreover, the World Health Organization has also paused clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine after several studies have proven that it is not a viable cure.