Off-Label Hydroxychloroquine Linked to Thousands of Deaths

7 January, 2024

(with thanks to Global Health Now)

In April 2020, at a White House press conference President Donald Trump encouraged people to take hydroxychloroquine: "What have you got to lose? I'll say it again: What do you have to lose? Take it!"

It is now estimated that ***17,000 people*** may have died after taking the drug. The drug was associated with an 11% increase in COVID-19 mortality due to adverse effects such as heart rhythm disorders and use of the drug instead of proven treatments.

This is a likely underestimate as the study only concerns six countries: France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the U.S.

As a personal comment, it is an indictment of the international community that we allow policymakers, including heads of state, to wilfully ignore and undermine the science. Mechanisms are badly needed to hold them accountable in the future. This is increasingly urgent in the face of artificial intelligence. As Carme Artigas, Co-Chair of the UN’s AI Advisory Body, says: "The existential risk is not from an Armageddon created by robots that kills us all. The real existential risk is that we all become mad, because we cannot believe what we are seeing, hearing, or reading." This existential risk is magnified if we do not have procedures to hold policymakers accountable.

Best wishes, Neil

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: