One viral tweet plus one did you know?
- I was really intrigued about the possibility of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID – 19. So, I did a little research and this is what I found:
- While both medications have been around for a long time and are effective in malaria prevention and treatment. They have been studied through the years in a variety of uses including as anti-virals for HIV, Coronavirus, and Ebola (they weren’t effective in animal studies). It would not be a surprise for it to be considered for COVID 19. However, when I started to look for the studies behind the stories I either came upon studies using cell cultures (in China), small studies (24 patients) from France that were not scientific, and many studies that were starting that were scientific in nature.
- I kept looking for the source documents of how this seemingly early and far from conclusive research created such a demand for a product that pharmacies ran out and the ONE company in the US that made it began ramping up their production. This is where the power of a Tweet can cause a stampede especially when a tweet is then followed by a Tweet from Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and Space-X. But where is this Google Doc, this source document??? I couldn’t find it.
- The following are quotes from the best information that I could find about this entire journey leading to my husband waking me to see what I knew about hydroxychloroquine when he heard someone named Rigano speaking about it on the news: “Todaro’s tweet got thousands of likes. The engineer/tech world picked up the idea. The widely-read blog Stratechery linked to Todaro’s Google document; Ben Thompson, the blog’s editor, wrote that he was “wholly unqualified to comment” but that the anecdotal evidence favored the idea. Echoing the document, Thompson wrote that the paper was written in consultation with Stanford Medical School, the University of Alabama at Birmingham medical school, and National Academy of Sciences researchers—none of which is exactly true. (More on that in a bit.) One of Todaro’s coauthors, a lawyer named Gregory Rigano, went on Fox News to talk about the concept”… This is the not exactly true part: “Broker says he wasn’t involved in producing the Google doc and would never advocate the use of a drug without formal trials. Today and Rigano have since removed his name from it, at Broker’s request. “I neither contributed to, wrote any part of, nor had knowledge of this google.com document. I have never conducted research on RNA virus pathogens… I have no professional credentials or authority to suggest or recommend clinical trials or practices,”…Moreover, I have never engaged any part of social media, privately or professionally. All of my scientific publications are processed through peer review.” Now, Dr. Broker had received his Ph.D from Stanford but had been working at the University of Alabama. Stanford’s statement on the Google doc is as follows: “Stanford Medicine, including SPARK, wasn’t involved in the creation of the Google document, and we’ve requested that the author remove all references to us. In addition, Gregory Rigano is not an advisor with Stanford School of Medicine and no one at Stanford was involved in the study.” It would be great to have access to this Google doc, however, the most important point is that while we must be inventive, creative, and fast track the paths to hope, we must also do so with measure and understanding that hope and reason must be balanced to achieve the best outcomes. No matter the motives behind the hope of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, a half truth looks like a whole lie.
- The bottom line is that while chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may be beneficial, they also have potential adverse side effects that are unique to the COVID-19 infection. Randomized controlled studies will determine if they work and at what cost (balance of adverse outcomes). These studies are in progress around the world with these and other medications in an unparalleled partnership between public and private sectors. Let’s HOPE answers are found soon.
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Did you know that there is research into the powerful effects of the biology of hope. This tweet is an example of where people are looking for hope and pardon the pun but when they see it, it can go viral. The truth is where there is hope there is less stress which in turn improves the immune system.[i]Oliver Wendel Holmes Jr. said it best, “Beware how you take away hope from another human being.”