Saturday, May 02, 2020


Politico's Tina Nguyen reports that some on the right oppose the use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 because, to them, there are red drugs and blue drugs, and remdesivir is a blue drug.
Over three weeks ago, hydroxychloroquine was all the rage in MAGA world, despite flawed and scattered evidence about whether drug could help cure coronavirus. Now there is another drug, remdesivir, with positive early scientific data.

Much of MAGA world wants little to do with it.

... The unexpected reaction appears to stem from the differences in how the two drugs came into the public spotlight. Hydroxychloroquine bubbled up through the MAGA grassroots — little-known investors promoted it online, got on Fox News and suddenly the president was talking about it from the White House. Remdesivir’s progress came through a government-funded trial that had the blessing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the bête noire of Trump hardliners who blame the government’s top infectious disease expert for undermining the president and causing unnecessary economic damage with his social-distancing guidelines.
On the one hand, this story is ridiculous. For all the right-wingers' efforts to discredit Dr. Fauci, he remains one of the most trusted people in America. In a late-April Hill/HarrisX poll, 63% of respondents said they trust Fauci for coronavrus information and only 17% said they didn't; in a Morning Consult poll conducted a week earlier, the trust numbers were 71% to 17%. The implication that there's a large anti-Fauci movement is a bit like the reporting on the anti-lockdown movement, which has suggested a groundswell of opposition to lockdowns even as polls make clear that the lockdowns continue to be popular, even in states such as Michigan where some of the angriest protests have taken place.

On the other hand, these Trumpworlders can motivate at least some of the more gullible members of the rank-and-file. If you read the comments at right-wing sites, you can see that much of MAGA Nation is Team Hydroxychloroquine. That doesn't mean they'll all reject remdesivir, or any other treatment not touted by their right-wing heroes. But some will.

So who's opposed to remdesivir, and why?
On Fox News, Laura Ingraham suggested that remdesivir, as a newer drug being produced by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, could be unsafe and expensive.
Expensive? Maybe. Safe? Hydroxychloroquine is potentially unsafe for some patients -- the FDA has noted "serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine."

Who else?
James Todaro, a bitcoin investor who cobbled together a Google Doc pitching hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment that was widely circulated in conservative circles and caught the attention of Fox News, noted that several members on the government panel making treatment recommendations for coronavirus were affiliated with Gilead.
Let's learn a little more about that Google Doc, from The Washington Post:
March 16: Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweets a link to a March 13 paper suggesting that the anti-malarial drug chloroquine might be effective at treating covid-19....

That evening, Gregory Rigano, one of the authors of the paper Musk linked, appears on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show. He says that hydroxychloroquine can “just get rid of [the virus] completely."

Rigano, though, is an attorney, not a doctor. He'd written the paper with the help of James Todaro, an ophthalmologist and tech investor. It was identified as having been written “in consultation with Stanford University School of Medicine” — but Stanford publicly denied any link. The document linked by Musk was later removed from Google Docs for violating the company's terms of service.
Who else?
The controversial French doctor Didier Raoult, who was behind a disputed and scientifically flawed study about hydroxychloroquine’s benefits for coronavirus patients, was similarly dismissive of the remdesivir results.

“Two trials focused on remdesivir delivered their findings: one published in the Lancet, that concluded to an absence of clinical improvement, one another announced by Gilead then by Dr Fauci, that did not have any significative result concerning mortality,” Raoult tweeted.
That would be this guy:
Didier Raoult, has denied climate change is happening and wrote a book declaring Darwin's theory of evolution was wrong.
And who else?
Shiva Ayyudurai, a prominent proponent of the #FireFauci movement who advocates for unproven vitamin therapy to treat the coronavirus, claimed that presenting remdesivir as a “save-all, be-all cure” to coronavirus had the benefit of boosting Gilead’s stock.

“On the economic side, you have a situation where this is being moved in a fast track way and it is supporting their stock price,” he said in an interview. “On the health side, this is not about enhancing the immune health of the individual. It is a very, very short term solution.”
It would be nice if Nguyen had told us a bit more about Ayyadurai: that he's a vaccine skeptic (a subject she's previously reported on), that he ran a clownish but nasty campaign against Elizabeth Warren in 2018 ("Only a REAL INDIAN Can Defeat the Fake Indian"), and that he sues people who point out that his claim that he invented email is false.

I think most people, including Republicans, will want any effective treatment that's available to them if they get COVID-19. I don't think this is a mass movement. But because people like Ingraham have built careers on opposition to anything that can be associated with liberals, and because we give undue attention to cranks and knee-jerk contrarians like Raoult and Ayyadurai, there'll be much greater resistance to effective treatments than there should be. But hey, why stop trying to own the libs just because it might kill someone?

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