A Democratic New York City council member has credited hydroxychloroquine with saving his life after he contracted the novel coronavirus in March.
Democrat Paul Vallone, who represents northeast Queens, told the New York Post he was struggling to breathe before his doctor prescribed hydroxychloroquine, which he took with Azithromycin, the antibiotic also known as Zithromax or Z-Pak.
“I couldn’t breathe, very weak, couldn’t get out of bed,” said Mr. Vallone in an interview posted Saturday. “My doctor prescribed it. My pharmacy had it. Took it that day and within two or three days I was able to breathe. Within a week I was back on my feet.”
He said the medication, which is FDA-approved for lupus, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis but not COVID-19, “saved my life.”
His experience comes as debate continues to rage on whether to prescribe hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, for COVID-19. The FDA revoked its emergency-use authorization for the drug on June 15 after determining that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine “are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19 for the authorized uses in the EUA.”
Admiral Brett Giroir, a physician and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Aug. 2 that “right now, hydroxychloroquine, I can’t recommend that.”
“And the evidence just doesn’t show that hydroxychloroquine is effective right now,” said Dr. Giroir on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think we need to move on from that and talk about what is effective, both from a public-health standpoint.”
Other physicians swear by HCQ, insisting the drug works for helping patients recover from COVID-19 when administered early on.
A July 2 study conducted by the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit found that treating patients with HCQ “cut the death rate significantly in sick patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — and without heart-related side effects.”
In a July 16 report, the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases also recommended early administration of HCQ, saying its study findings suggested that “patients confirmed of COVID-19 infection should be administered HCQ as soon as possible.”
Dr. Stephen Smith, who heads the Smith Center for Infectious Diseases and Urban Health in East Orange, New Jersey, called Dr. Giroir’s “move on” comment “a ridiculous statement,” saying the drug “has an anti-inflammation effect on COVID patients.”
“I’ve seen dramatic responses, especially early on,” said Dr. Smith in a Thursday interview on Fox’s “The Ingraham Angle.” “I’ve seen some patients get better really quickly — much more quickly than we expect with an anti-viral agent.”
Mr. Vallone, who announced his diagnosis in an April 1 Facebook post, said that he suffers from sarcoidosis, an auto-immune disorder that attacks the lungs.
“We were in panic mode when I went down because I didn’t have a lot of immune response,” he told the Post. “I needed something to stay alive.”
Mr. Vallone added that hydoxychloroquine “worked for me.”
The drug’s effectiveness was called into question after President Trump touted it at a press conference, but another Democrat, Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett, credited in April her recovery from COVID-19 to hydroxychloroquine.