Dr Jha’s formidable account of his hearing before lawmakers who believe that thousands of Americans are dying from doctors – who they are convinced are in bed with the Big Pharma and corrupt – withholding hydroxychloroquine.
First published in November 2020.
Today was a very, very odd day.
I testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs.
They held a hearing on hydroxychloroquine.
In the middle of the worst surge of the pandemic.
It was clear how our information architecture shapes questions of science and medicine of COVID.
There were four witnesses. Three who strongly supported hydroxychloroquine. They believed thousands of Americans were dying from the lack of hydroxychloroquine. And then, there was me.
This split was not a reflection of evidence or the consensus in medicine. It reflected the ability of the majority to seat more witnesses. The hearing was a testament to how politicized science has become.
I shared evidence of studies that have failed to find benefit of hydroxychloroquine. The three other witnesses shared personal experiences and suggested my testimony was reckless because it would deny people access to lifesaving hydroxychloroquine.
There was an attempt to make it personal. I passed. I am not big on personalizing disagreement. I am more comfortable talking data, evidence, science.
Their engagement with data was sparse. And they were horrified that I disagreed.
The most shocking? When Republican Senator Ron Johnson and the other witnesses essentially argued that there is a coordinated effort by America’s doctors to deny patients hydroxychloroquine. Why would we do this? Because we are in bed with the Big Pharma, a version of the anti-Doctor rhetoric from Donald Trump and his “expert” Scott Atlas.
I tried to explain that doctors don’t want to kill their patients by withholding therapy but evidence matters. They tried to flip the narrative by saying that evidence was misinformation. And the “art of medicine” was what mattered. And most amazing? That the FDA, the National Institutes of Health and the Big Pharma were all corrupt.
On a personal note, it was disheartening to be personally attacked during the hearing by the witnesses and Senator Ron Johnson, and on Twitter during and after the hearing.
But you may be wondering, What is going on? Why hold a hearing on hydroxychloroquine in the middle of the worst surge of the pandemic? Why talk hydroxychloroquine when so many Americans are dying?
Because it was meant to push a narrative. That ‘masks and distancing don’t matter.’ That ‘if you get infected, no big deal, simply take some hydroxychloroquine, it is stunning.’
“If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition our democracy doesn’t work.” 🔷
- Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution (full hearing) | U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs
Dr Ashish K. Jha, Physician, health policy researcher. Dean of the School of Public Health, Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, Brown University, Rhode Island.
Check their Voting Record:
🗳️ Ron Johnson
🗳️ Donald Trump
🗳️ Barack Obama