A viral video by social media companies has led to a much anticipated controversy in the US over the use of the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine.
In the video, members of the group America’s Frontline Doctors promote it as a preventative measure and as a treatment for Kovid-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “there is currently no evidence” that hydroxychloroquine is effective as a treatment or inhibits coronavirus.
The video was broadcast online by right-wing online platform Breitbart, which was viewed more than 17 million times on Facebook. It was also shared on Twitter by Donald Trump and several of his supporters.
The president’s son, Donald Jr., was suspended from tweeting on Twitter for 12 hours because he posted it on his account.
What does the video claim?
The 45-minute live video of the first day of the “White Coat” summit by the group was posted by Breitbart on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and quickly went viral.
One of the doctors in the video says, “There is a cure for the virus, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc and zithromrom.”
“You don’t need a mask. There’s a cure. I know they don’t want to open schools. No, you don’t need to shut people down. There’s prevention and there’s a cure.”
Facebook videos, as well as millions of views, were shared nearly 600,000 times before the launch.
The hashtag #hydroxychloroquine was tweeted more than 153,000 times, becoming one of Twitter’s top trends in the US overnight.
Several versions of the video are being widely shared on social media.
According to data from Facebook-owned social media analytics tool CrowdTangle, the term hydroxychloroquine has 6.6 million attachments (likes, shares, views, comments, and reactions) on Facebook and Instagram in the last 24 hours, despite deleting many Version of the video.
In a statement to BBC News, Twitter said: “The tweets accompanying the video are in violation of our Kovid-19 misinformation policy. We are taking action in line with our policy here.”
“We removed this video for sharing misinformation about the treatment and treatment of Kovid-19,” Facebook told the BBC, confirming that it was also removing other versions of the video.
YouTube told the BBC: “We have removed the video for violating our Kovid-19 misinformation policies.”
BBC News also contacted Breitbart, the White House and US frontline doctors for comment.
What is the evidence for hydroxychloroquine?
The drug is a well-known treatment for malaria and was first confirmed by President Trump in March in connection with Kovid-19.
The WHO states: “While several drug trials are underway, there is currently no evidence that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or inhibit COVID-19.”
“Hydroxychloroquine abuse can cause serious side effects and illness and even death,” it adds.
A study conducted by Oxford University found that the drug was not effective against Kovid-19 in hospitalized patients.
Its effectiveness, used early in the course of treatment, is still being studied, as it is used as a preventive measure.
- Coronavirus and Hydroxychloroquine: What Do We Know?
Medical trials so far have been inconclusive and the results of a large-scale randomized study will need to know whether it is effective or not.
In July, the US Food and Drug Administration warned against the use of the drug outside a hospital setting because of the potential risk to the heart from taking it.
Who is the doctor
America’s front doctors collection of physicians for scientific consensus around the epidemic. His program was endorsed by the Tea Party Patriots, a conservative organization seeking the re-election of President Trump.
Its founder, Simon Gold, held a letter to Mr. Trump in May calling for an end to the lockdown measures.
Participants were encouraged to interview with social media influencers as the best way to connect with Americans.
There has been intense debate on social media in recent months about hydroxychloroquine, and influential Fox News anchors have also run segments in favor of the drug.
Ralph Norman, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, stood with the doctors when he delivered his news conference.
The debate is increasingly dividing Americans along political lines, with supporters of hydroxychloroquine pointing to President Trump’s support, accusing critics of covering up its potential effectiveness.
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