April 9, 2020

PolitiFact and MediaWise are teaming up to debunk misinformation about the coronavirus crisis. To have Coronavirus Facts delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.

The hunt for drugs to rein in the coronavirus is, like so much else in this crisis, filled with uncertainty. President Donald Trump sees great promise in a compound called hydroxychloroquine. That’s based on a couple of early trials in China and France that showed remarkable results after just a handful of days.

Some medical experts echo Trump’s enthusiasm, but many more do not. They say that the drug’s benefit is still unproven. Meanwhile, the government has welcomed the donation of 30 million doses to the Strategic National Stockpile.

Hydroxychloroquine, and its chemical cousin chloroquine, are well-established drugs. Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, while chloroquine helps with malaria. Both carry a particular risk for people with heart problems, plus other possible side effects.

Trump has said the drug should be used. “What have you got to lose?” he asked. The answer could be more complicated than meets the eye.

PolitiFact explored the science, risks, and government policy around hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine during the coronavirus outbreak. (We will update this story as necessary.)

Ask me anything today at 3 p.m. ET

Be sure to check out my “Ask Me Anything” as life as a coronavirus fact-checker on Reddit today at 3 p.m. ET. I’ll be answering questions about how coronavirus and misinformation are affecting young people on the r/teenagers subreddit.

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A viral tweet claiming that President Donald Trump tried to poach a coronavirus vaccine from a German company for sole use in the U.S. is based on shaky reporting. Watch the fact-check»

Video claims to show people in China destroying 5G poles over COVID-19 concerns

The video actually shows Hong Kong protesters tearing down “smart” lampposts because they feared they could be used to collect personal data from citizens. Get the facts»

Did Goodwill use the coronavirus pandemic “to fire all of their employees”?

More than 96% of Goodwill’s thrift stores have closed. But many employees have been laid off or furloughed with benefits — not fired, as a viral Facebook post claims. Read the full fact-check»

A viral tweet says Vietnam developed a test for COVID-19 four years ahead of time

While Vietnam did develop a quick-test for COVID-19 in less than a month, there is no evidence that the World Health Organization said it should have taken four years. Watch for more»

Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has…
Alex Mahadevan

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  • **Some medical experts echo Trump’s enthusiasm, but many more do not. They say that the drug’s benefit is still unproven.**

    In fact, President Trump himself has said hydroxychloroquine is unproven.

    So how do the “many more” who supposedly do not echo Trump’s enthusiasm differ from Trump, specifically?

    It seems the “many more do not” is a made-up factoid. Where’s the poll or survey to back up the claim?

    Is that what we should expect in a column dedicated to fact-checking?

    When pressed by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond on why the President is not letting the science speak for itself, the President said that hydroxychloroquine “may not work and in which case, hey, it didn’t work, and it may work,” but he said he does not want to wait a “year and a half” to find out.