Polarization Distorts Views of Hydroxychloroquine, Healthcare

Headline Roundup August 6th, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug once touted by President Donald Trump as a potential COVID-19 coronavirus cure, remains a point of contention more than four months into the pandemic. This week, Trump and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro each defended their support for the drug to reporters. Some officials are pushing for more investment and research into hydroxychloroquine; others worry that focusing on the drug could crowd out investment into other potential COVID-19 treatments.

The hydroxychloroquine controversy has been covered by news outlets on all sides. Some coverage from left-rated outlets framed Trump administration support for the drug as questionable. Coverage of the drug's effectiveness is more nuanced, as journalists attempt to explain complex medical studies. However, evidence supporting hydroxychloroquine tends to be found in right-rated outlets, while evidence against the drug tends to be found in left-rated outlets.

Polarization Distorts Views of Hydroxychloroquine, Healthcare

From the Right

Is hydroxychloroquine a generally safe drug?

The politically charged atmosphere surrounding the drug in the context of COVID-19 can present a distorted picture. But the best evidence suggests that it has few adverse effects, although it does present some risks for patients with heart conditions.

Dr. Alieta Eck, who prescribed hydroxychloroquine for her patients who had COVID-19 symptoms, was confident the drug was safe.

"My feeling was that it was not going to do any harm, which is true. It’s a very safe medicine," said Eck, an internist in New...

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From the Center

A trial investigating the drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment against Covid-19 may never find out if it's effective, say scientists involved.

Controversy around the drug - touted by President Trump and the subject of online misinformation - is stopping completion of the trial, they say.

It is ineffective in hospitalised patients, but investigators hope it might work if given earlier on.

Hospitals have pulled out of the trial.

The Oxford University-led trial is aiming to enrol 40,000 frontline workers around the world.

Investigators hope the large-scale, double-blind randomised study...

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From the Left

A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 American adults conducted in April found that 53 percent of Republicans were willing to take anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, while only 18 percent of Democrats were willing to try it.

The utter arbitrariness of how public opinion on scientific questions has fractured along partisan divides reveals something rotten at the core of the national conversation.

No one is surprised to see political polarization around issues of taxation, immigration, welfare or military spending. But it has been remarkable to see such deep partisan divides...

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