This amounted to excellent news, at least for those of us who like actual good news about pandemics. (There is a recent report coming from China that another small sample randomized test does not show the same results.) Meantime, the CDC noted that "[b]ased upon limited in-vitro and anecdotal data, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries." But you would not get that story from CNN, which downplayed the work being done elsewhere:
Chloroquine has not been approved by the FDA to treat the coronavirus -- and nor has any other drug, the FDA made clear in a post-briefing statement that said "there are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19." Because chloroquine has been approved for other purposes, doctors are legally allowed to prescribe it for the unapproved or "off-label" use of treating the coronavirus if they want. But its safety and effectiveness has not been proven with regard to the coronavirus. FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, speaking after Trump at the briefing, said that chloroquine would be tested through a "large, pragmatic clinical trial" with coronavirus patients.Here, the FDA and CDC speak in the same generalities one does when there aren't any pandemics involved, i.e. the same kind of thinking that delayed a US COVID-19 test by nearly a month. The combination is in fact going to those sorts of clinical trials, which are expected to conclude in 2022. But for now, CNN sees fit to omit the French work from their pretend "fact check" because it goes off narrative. Anything that gives people hope is disarming a weapon against Trump, and it must therefore be minimized if not eliminated. This foolish politicization will have consequences; we have already seen one in Nevada, where Democratic governor Steve Sisolak has barred physicians from using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 anywhere but in hospitals.
Update: It's important to note that Trump's initial comments were (mostly) comparatively anodyne (emboldening mine):
"It's shown very encouraging -- very, very encouraging early results. And we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that's where the FDA has been so great. They -- they've gone through the approval process; it's been approved. And they did it -- they took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we're going to be able to make that drug available by prescription or states," Trump said.The approval speed was irrelevant for drugs already on the market. What was not forthcoming was whether this amounted to an on-label use, which, as stated above, won't be known for two years.
He added: "Normally the FDA would take a long time to approve something like that, and it's -- it was approved very, very quickly and it's now approved, by prescription."