An observational study - statistical correlation, no clinical trial was involved - does not show a link between the antimalarial drug chloroquine (or its analogue hydroxychloroquine) and benefit in patients with COVID-19. The pool was nearly 15,000, presumably patients with COVID-19, receiving a combination of any of the four drug regimens, compared with 81,000 who did not. They did find a statistical link to risk of more heart issues.

What does that really mean? Despite what you read in the media about how it does not work, and that it "causes" heart attacks, it really only means the drugs need to go into clinical trials.

Yet that is not what those in the culture wars are advocating. They are insisting it does not work,  and this observational study cannot show that. Statistical correlation can also claim bacon is as harmful as asbestos but that is not science the way clinical trials are.

The reason so many are rushing to claim it does not work seems to be more about President Trump and his expert team accepting a peer-reviewed study saying it does work than it is about corporate journalism suddenly being some special defenders of science. The New York Times coronavirus coverage regularly goes into its impact related to ghosts, astrology, and acupuncture so it seems odd that they have suddenly devoted so much time to debunking a journal they'd never heard of before the end of March, when the President of the U.S. said he believed it should be tried. Unless it's politics as usual.

Outlets that gush all over every mouse study - also only exploratory - claiming harm from some common chemical and every epidemiology paper - also only exploratory - claiming some food increases longevity are suddenly fanatical about debunking a malaria product that is already also used off-label for diseases like arthritis. Given how it behaves, it is plausible it might work on some with COVID-19, certainly better than the 'light energy' and tinctures endorsed by CNN journalist Chris Cuomo, who few besides me criticized.

The deciding factor may be that Trump, unlike Cuomo, is outside the political tribe of journalists. 

That a President rushed to endorse it based on one paper and then others rushed to deride it based on nothing but statistical correlation is why it needs to go into real clinical trials. Just like every other drug.

Given that it has risks, and there is no statistical correlation to benefit, there is certainly no reason to rush it to the public, but it is successfully used to treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases with similar biological mechanisms as COVID-19. That is reason enough for media to stop playing political football with it in order to gain some yardage in their war on Republicans.

Let science do its job.