As COVID-19 ‘cases’ (positive tests) surge in border states, governors are being accused of ‘re-opening too soon.’
Gov. Ducey of Arizona, Gov. Abbott of Texas, and Gov. Newsom of California are imposing more restrictions on still-surviving small businesses, and many jurisdictions are mandating mask-wearing by the public.
These measures will destroy livelihoods, but there is little evidence they will save lives. A better, evidence-based approach would be to protect the people most at risk of exposure and infection despite protective gear. These include medical and dental workers but also law enforcement, first responders, factory workers, truck drivers, clergy, and others who serve the public.
Consider the response to HIV/AIDS. Despite decades of effort, there is no vaccine, but those who have been or might be exposed are offered post-exposure or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP or PrEP) with antiviral drugs. And of course, malaria prophylaxis has been routine for decades for those who live in or visit areas with high incidence of malaria.
Recently published, peer-reviewed evidence shows that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is being used safely and effectively to prevent COVID-19 in exposed workers.
Policemen and others may choose to take HCQ for prophylaxis in India, but not in the U.S. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has explicitly prohibited prophylactic use of HCQ by executive order. While physicians have the authority to prescribe any FDA-approved medication for any indication, most states have imposed unprecedented restrictions on physicians and pharmacists who prescribe or dispense HCQ for COVID-19.
Research at Henry Ford Health System has recently shown that HCQ cut the COVID-19 death rate in hospitalized patients by half. There are now 53 studies (33 peer-reviewed) on HCQ in COVID-19, almost all with favorable results. The very few negative studies were meaningless because the treatment was applied too late to expect a positive result.
To prevent sickness, hospitalization, death, and likely long-term health problems in COVID-19 survivors, governors must immediately remove all restrictions on HCQ use for pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis or treatment of HCQ. Doctors must be allowed to practice medicine.
Jane Orient, M.D. is executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.