Hannity Touts Unverified Coronavirus Treatment from Family Doctor Called Out for Posting ‘Unsubstantiated and Irresponsible’ Video About Outbreak
Sean Hannity enthusiastically touted an unverified coronavirus treatment regimen from a New York family doctor who was publicly called out just last week for posting an “unsubstantiated and irresponsible” Facebook video about the spread of the outbreak.
In an interview with Vice President Mike Pence, Hannity dramatically held up a letter from Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a family practitioner from Monroe, New York who claims to have achieved a 100 percent success rate in preventing hospitalization for 500 coronavirus patients using a combination of three different drugs. Hannity had interviewed Zelenko about these claims on his radio show earlier on Monday.
However, Hannity did not mention on air that another of Dr. Zelenko’s claims was debunked by a county public health official just last week, after the doctor posted an “unsubstantiated and irresponsible” Facebook video that predicted — based on positive results from a mere nine out of 14 tests — the a massive outbreak of the disease would hit the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel. Zelenko did not respond to press inquiries seeking comment on the story.
Also of note: As of last Thursday, Orange County, where both Kiryas Joel and Monroe are located, had officially reported a total of 68 positive cases of coronavirus. Zelenko, however, claims that he has treated 350 coronavirus patients from Kiryas Joel alone and nearly 150 more from nearby areas. Despite these red flags, Hannity read off the exact dosage and treatment durations that Zelenko claims has stopped the disease in his conversation with the head of the nation’s coronavirus task force, Vice President Mike Pence.
Among the drugs being championed by Zelenko are hyrdoxychloroquine, which has shown some promise for treating other strains of the coronavirus family in the past, and azithromycin, an antibiotic normally used to treat bacterial infections.
Hannity’s optimism for these still clinically-unproven treatments is shared by President Donald Trump, who has boasted that the combination of these same two drugs had “a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly cautioned against broadly promoting any possible treatments for COVID-19 without evidence from controlled, clinical trials. And on Sunday’s Face the Nation, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS that “right now, there is no drug that looks like it’s proven so overwhelming in early-stage clinical trials that we can say it’s highly promising.”
In fact, there have already been deadly consequences from people self-medicating unverified drugs out of desperation. One elderly Arizona couple, after reportedly seeing the president tout the potential benefits of chloroquine, intentionally ingested chloroquine phosphate in an attempt to ward off infection. However, that compound does not have medicinal purposes and is instead used address parasites in fish tanks. The pair became violently ill very soon after taking the drug and the husband subsequently died while the wife remains in critical condition.
Later on his show, Hannity hosted two other medical figures, a brain surgeon, Dr. Peter Constantino, and Baylor College medical professor and vaccine expert, Peter Hotez to weigh in on Zelenko’s claims. While both expressed hope that chloroquine might prove useful in the fight against coronavirus since it had had some efficacy in treating the SARS virus, Constantino pointed out that Zelenko’s results were still as yet unverified and not part of any controlled study. And, for his part, Hotez offered additional skepticism about Zelenko’s treatment based on the drug’s past history of failed trials.
“Chloroquine has a lot going for it. It kills the virus in the test tube, it suppresses inflammation. We know inflammation in the lungs is a huge reason why people get sick and die from his virus,” Hotez noted. “The reason why both the vice president and I are not popping the champagne cork is because we’ve both been down this path before with influenza. Hydroxychloroquine showed some promise, chloroquine against the influenza virus in the test tube, but it didn’t quite pan out.”
Watch the video above, via Fox News.
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