As Loudoun County prepares to surpass 5,000 COVID-19 cases, Del. Dave LaRock (R-33) is pressing state leaders to lift restrictions on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat symptoms of the disease.
In a July 30 letter to state Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, LaRock cites a long list of published studies or medical reports that purport to find value in the use of the anti-malaria drug in treating COVID-19 patients.
The Loudoun delegate is joining a Republican push—led for months by President Donald J. Trump—to support use of the drug. However, most medical experts continue to state its use is likely to do more harm than good. Today on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, again told lawmakers that no valid study has demonstrated any benefits of the using the drug to treat victims of the pandemic. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned against use of the drug following reports of serious heart rhythm problems and other health concerns. The National Institutes of Health continues to update the list of recommended treatments to include the use of remdesivir, corticosteroids and other medication in specific circumstances, however, it continues to recommend against the use of hydroxychloroquine, alone or in combination with azithromycin.
In his letter, LaRock suggests a conspiracy to prevent use of the drug.
“Events this week have amplified the silencing of doctors and evidence supporting effective, affordable treatment of COVID-19 that has been taking place since the earliest days of the pandemic,” he wrote. “The devastating human, societal, and economic costs of the pandemic and government-mandated shutdowns are increasing daily. Many Americans question whether certain government policies are being made to further the best health outcomes or for political purposes.”
Specifically, LaRock is objecting to Oliver’s March 25 directive to the commonwealth’s doctors. That letter urged them to limit the use hydroxychloroquine in the face of a growing shortage of the drug that is used to treat malaria and some autoimmune diseases, and inconclusive information on its treatment benefits for COVID-19.
LaRock wrote that studies as early as 2005 showed the drug’s ability to treat patients infected with a coronavirus. While other types of coronaviruses have infected humans with illnesses ranging from SARS and MERS to the common cold, the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic did not appear in humans until 2019.
“By allowing this directive to remain in effect, you are ignoring widely-available and highly-credible scientific evidence pertaining to the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. While there are many unknowns being sorted out as the world confronts what is called a global pandemic; in contrast, the benefits of this inexpensive drug are very well known,” LaRock wrote.
LaRock charged the restrictions on the use of hydroxychloroquine are politically—not medically—motivated.
“As knowledge concerning the safety and efficacy of HCQ in treating COVID-19 and saving lives has become more widespread, I have encountered a number of Virginians who have concluded with a sense of outrage that HCQ is being restricted in Virginia not for medical reasons, but for political reasons. Every day this directive is left standing, the likelihood increases that more Virginians will die unnecessarily from COVID-19 for lack of proper early treatment,” he wrote.
As of July 31, 4,995 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Loudoun County, with 335 patients requiring hospitalization and 110 deaths.