Yale medical scholar slams colleagues, media for 'politicizing' Hydroxychloroquine

The Ivy League scholar said he believes the drug, often promoted by President Donald Trump, has been "politicized."

A Yale epidemiologist cited five studies in which the vast majority of early COVID-19 patients recovered after using the controversial drug Hydroxychloroquine.

A Yale epidemiologist is spreading awareness about Hydroxychloroquine, a drug that he says has been shown to effectively combat COVID-19, despite the media’s portrayal of it.

Harvey Risch urged readers in a Newsweek opinion editorial to use the drug, which he said is the “key to defeating COVID-19.”

“I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines,” Risch wrote. “As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily. Fortunately, the situation can be reversed easily and quickly.”

Risch published an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology in May, which relied on the findings of five studies that he said show the “clear-cut and significant benefits” of taking Hydroxychloroquine.

”Hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin has been widely misrepresented in both clinical reports and public media, and outpatient trials results are not expected until September....Five studies, including two controlled clinical trials, have demonstrated significant major outpatient treatment efficacy...These medications need to be widely available and promoted immediately for physicians to prescribe,” Risch wrote.

The Yale professor echoed those comments in his more recent op-ed.

[RELATED: Biology prof: There is ‘no way’ to safely open campus right now]

”The medication has become highly politicized,” Risch wrote in Newsweek. “For many, it is viewed as a marker of political identity, on both sides of the political spectrum. Nobody needs me to remind them that this is not how medicine should proceed. We must judge this medication strictly on the science. When doctors graduate from medical school, they formally promise to make the health and life of the patient their first consideration, without biases of race, religion, nationality, social standing—or political affiliation. Lives must come first.”

Campus Reform spoke with Risch, who has more than 30 years of experience in epidemiology and is a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“I am arguably one of the best people to do this kind of evaluation,” Risch said. 

[RELATED: Researchers use artificial intelligence to make coronavirus predictions]

On July 27 and 28, America’s Frontline Doctors held press conferences on Capitol Hill, advocating for the use of Hydroxychloroquine. President Donald Trump shared the video on Twitter, and was roundly criticized for doing so. 

The footage was later removed from social media for sharing “false information.” 

About one month before that, in June, The Lancet retracted a study that alleged hydroxychloroquine was not effective, and even harmful, when used to treat COVID-19.

All of this is evidence of what Risch says is the politicization of a drug that could otherwise offer potential relief to COVID-19 patients.

“I think there is a confluence of drug company pressure to maintain a marketplace for new drug development and use, and media bias,” Risch said. The Yale epidemiologist insisted that he doesn’t hold any political positions when it comes to Hydroxychloroquine. 

“I am not affiliated with any political groups. In particular, I am not affiliated with ‘America’s Frontline Doctors.’ I am also not affiliated with the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons,” Risch told Campus Reform

“I have dedicated my career to research to protect the health and lives of people,” he added.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Dean_Barker