(March 20) While it’s true that President Trump shouldn’t oversell the chances that antimalarial drugs will provide major relief to symptoms of the coronavirus, his instincts in favor of letting people try them are actually laudable.

The media should push harder with follow-up questions to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about whether any downside risks to those drugs really do merit his “go slow” predilections. Are the risks worse than the coronavirus?

As I wrote earlier this week, it seems that authorities still are so focused on prevention of coronavirus transmission that they are under-informing us about what to do if we suspect we already have it. Trump’s instincts in favor of giving us something along those lines are therefore quite welcome.

Also welcome is his instinct in favor of action over excessive caution. If, repeat if, certain drugs have a realistic chance of proving helpful without posing many downside risks, then shouldn’t we encourage their use even as we conduct more tests? If the worst that can happen is just failing to improve things, but without getting in the way of other treatments and without making things worse, then why not try them in the meantime?

Authorities should continue rigorous testing and protocols. And sure, Trump and others are wrong to overpromise good results. In the meantime, though, thousands of people are suffering.

So, the questions the media should ask Dr. Fauci include these: Do these drugs threaten serious side effects? Is there any way they can make it harder for coronavirus patients to recover? What advice does Fauci have for doctors who want at least to try to use them off-label? And if the patient appears near death and nothing else works, wouldn’t it be immoral not to try them?…

[The full column is here.]




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