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File the following under "who knows what's true" in the grossly politicized information being spread about effectively treating covid-19.

Yet some recent findings certainly seem to me not only relevant in dealing with the ongoing pandemic, but also worth revisiting. Hence, valued readers, I'm sharing with you.

The Economic Standard, a respected website filled with well-researched opinion and analysis that promote a voice for optimism and reasoned debate in the time of populist upheaval, has issued a white paper concluding the drug hydroxychloroquine has gotten an unjustifiably bad rap in its ability to fight and overcome covid-19 when used early.

You may recall this drug--combined in the proper dosage with zinc and the antibiotic azithromycin--in early spring was touted as an inexpensive, safe and effective treatment for overcoming the virus. A number of doctors were reporting remarkable successes in using the mixture.

But after President Donald Trump admitted to personally taking the regimen as a prophylactic to avoid contracting covid-19, it seemed the national media and some medical officials immediately began seeking every possible way to discredit its use.

The Economic Standard's report, "Hydroxychloroquine and the Burden of Proof: An Urgent Call to Depoliticize Medicine in the Covid-19 Pandemic," concludes this drug regimen should be used safely, just as other nations are doing to help shut down their pandemic woes.

From the paper: "The covid-19 pandemic struck America nine months before a presidential election, turning basic medical activities like testing and treatment into partisan battlegrounds. No subject has been more distorted than hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a safe, versatile medicine that has treated hundreds of millions of people for numerous diseases for seven decades.

"HCQ was adopted as a covid-19 treatment in Asia in January 2020 without fanfare, based on lab tests with the related coronavirus SARS-1. But when President Trump stated in March that the U.S. would also begin studying the drug's potential against the virus, political opponents defied longstanding scientific and medical consensus to portray HCQ as harmful and Trump as a mortal danger to public health.

"Flawed and even falsified studies were published and promoted by media outlets eager to discredit Trump, while positive studies were impugned or ignored."

The paper says the negative campaign persists even as evidence of the drug's benefit grows, "including scores of observational controlled trials showing therapeutic effect when administered early in disease progression. Hundreds of drugs have been approved for both indication-specific and general usage on the basis of similar observational trials, especially when conducted in large numbers and subject to careful meta-analysis. As a matter of medical practice and especially in a pandemic emergency, it is flatly not the case that only randomized controlled trials can justify adopting a treatment, as HCQ detractors have insisted while publicizing randomized controlled trials results that are themselves deeply flawed.

"The U.S. is an international outlier on HCQ. Right now, doctors around the world are prescribing HCQ to treat covid-19 outside of hospitals, as well as prophylactically to prevent infection among health-care workers and vulnerable populations."

The Economic Standard argues, "HCQ has met the appropriate burden of proof and urges members of the U.S. news media, public health community, and regulatory agencies to stop politicizing the use of this medicine. Tens of thousands of lives still hang in the balance."

The Economic Standard concludes opponents of HCQ have used political ends (Naw! Imagine that!) to misrepresent the drug's efficacy while sufficient credible scientific data exists that HCQ does have therapeutic value against covid-19, and the theoretical risk of harm doesn't compare to the threat of the disease left untreated.

"The burden of proof has been met. HCQ should be more widely recommended, prescribed and promoted to treat covid-19 right now," the paper says.

All righty then, there you have another perspective on using hydroxychloroquine aside from the politicized version promoted by the mainstream media after the president advocated its potential benefits months ago.

I say every full-grown adult with common sense is fully capable of assessing the benefits and potential risks to this form of treatment for themselves, just as we will toward a vaccine once it becomes available.

The last thing our country needs is even more distrust fueled by ugly partisan politics from those who would say and do anything for power and control. My thanks to The Economic Standard for offering this alternative viewpoint, which for me carries the ring of truth backed by the successful treatments with this drug worldwide.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]

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