Hydroxychloroquine is not proven to treat COVID-19 or radiation sickness

Some studies have found that hydroxychloroquine could help alleviate symptoms associated with COVID-19, but the research is not conclusive.

May 20, 2020
Category: Fact-Checking

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A popular Facebook post ties a recurring falsehood about a potential coronavirus treatment to a conspiracy theory about 5G cell phone networks.

“Hydroxychloroquine cures this ‘virus,'” reads the text post, which was published May 14 in an anti-vaccine group targeting billionaire Bill Gates. “It just so happens this is the treatment used for radiation sickness!!”

Since President Donald Trump first touted the drug as a potential coronavirus treatment during a March press briefing, we have fact-checked dozens of claims about hydroxychloroquine, which has previously been used for treating malaria and inflammatory disorders such as lupus and arthritis. Seeing as Trump says he is now taking the drug to lessen symptoms in case he is sickened with COVID-19, we figured we should check this post, too.

The post is inaccurate. We reached out to the original poster for their sources, but we haven’t heard back.

There is no current cure or vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Some studies have found that hydroxychloroquine could help alleviate symptoms associated with COVID-19, but the research is not conclusive.

Two studies, one from France and one from China, found that hydroxychloroquine helped people clear the virus quickly and alleviate symptoms. But two other studies found that the drug had no discernible effect on the coronavirus. A more recent, large-scale study of nearly 1,400 New York-area patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 also found that patients fared no better by taking hydroxychloroquine.

Click here to read the full fact-check.

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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.