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Fake cures, risky rumors: Virus misinformation hits home

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By Katie Forster and Uzair Rizvi

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© 2020 AFP

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Last month, residents of Kiryas Joel, a New York village of 35,000 Hasidic Jews roughly an hour’s drive from Manhattan, began hearing about a promising treatment for the coronavirus that had been rippling through their community.

The source was Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, 46, a mild-mannered family doctor with offices near the village. Since early March, his clinics had treated people with coronavirus-like symptoms, and he had developed an experimental treatment consisting of an antimalarial medication called hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin and zinc sulfate.

After testing this three-drug cocktail on hundreds of patients, some of whom had only mild or moderate symptoms when they arrived, Dr. Zelenko claimed that 100 percent of them had survived the virus with no hospitalizations and no need for a ventilator.

“I’m seeing tremendous positive results,” he said in a March 21 video, which was addressed to President Trump and eventually posted to YouTube and Facebook.

What happened next is a modern pandemic parable that illustrates how the coronavirus is colliding with our fragile information ecosystem: a jumble of facts, falsehoods and viral rumors patched together from Twitter threads and shards of online news, amplified by armchair experts and professional partisans and pumped through the warp-speed accelerator of social media.

Dr. Zelenko’s treatment arrived at a useful moment for Mr. Trump and his media supporters, who have at times appeared more interested in discussing miracle cures than testing delays or ventilator shortages.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, quickly promoted Dr. Zelenko’s claims on his TV and radio shows. Mark Meadows, the incoming White House chief of staff, called Dr. Zelenko to ask about his treatment plan. And Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, praised him in a podcast interview this week for “thinking of solutions, just like the president.”

Few people have been as hopeful about hydroxychloroquine as Mr. Trump, who has enthusiastically promoted it for weeks as “very effective” and possibly “the biggest game changer in the history of medicine”...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/technology/doctor-zelenko-coronavirus-drugs.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

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At a long-winded White House briefing on Friday, President Trump enthusiastically and repeatedly promoted the promise of two long-used malaria drugs that are still unproven against the coronavirus, but being tested in clinical trials.

“I’m a smart guy,” he said, while acknowledging he couldn’t predict the drugs would work. “I feel good about it. And we’re going to see. You’re going to see soon enough.”

But the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, delicately — yet forcefully — pushed back from the same stage, explaining that there was only anecdotal evidence that the drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, may be effective.

“The president feels optimistic about something, has feelings about it,” said Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, emphasizing that he was a scientist. “I am saying it may be effective.”

Mr. Trump’s boosterish attitude toward the drugs has deepened worries among doctors and patients with lupus and other diseases who rely on the drugs, because the idea that the old malaria drugs could work against the coronavirus has circulated widely in recent weeks and fueled shortages that have already left people rushing to fill their prescriptions.

“Rheumatologists are furious about the hype going on over this drug,” said Dr. Michael Lockshin, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. “There is a run on it and we’re getting calls every few minutes, literally, from patients who are trying to stay on the drug and finding it in short supply.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/health/coronavirus-chloroquine-trump.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

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Question. Are they even able to definitely pinpoint the COVID-19? How long does it take? It was my understanding it took a long time..days. Much less do we have a cure. What is true and what is false is still up in the air, i feel.

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Eh? Can't understand the article or the comments?

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