Chloroquine is a synthetic form of quinine, a compound found in the bark of cinchona trees native to Peru and used for centuries to treat malaria. Since the 1950s, chloroquine has been the most common treatment for malaria, and millions of healthy people have taken it for malaria protection when they travel to the tropics.
Stories coming out of China, Italy, New York, and many other places suggest that chloroquine can be a promising drug for treating COVID. Some patients report that their condition has turned around in a matter of hours. Doctors report that symptoms are usually relieved promptly and patients are back to normal in days instead of weeks.
In this country, drugs are approved for a particular purpose, but doctors are free to (and commonly do) prescribe drugs "off-label" for other conditions. So chloroquine has been used "off-label". It has not gone through clinical trials, which are designed to be a rigorous test of safety and efficacy. Clinical trials take years and cost $tens of millions or more.
President Trump has "a warm feeling" about chloroquine. Of course, if he can pull the country away from freak-out mode and open for business again, he looks better and his re-election prospects improve.
The Democratic press has been very hard on Trump, calling his statements "dangerous", "irresponsible" and "unscientific". The outcry has been led by Dr Anthony Fauci. Fauci, too, has an axe to grind. He is heavily invested in a global vaccine agenda. He wants us all to lock down and hang tough until a coronavirus vaccine is available.
The Press has promoted stories of people who "poisoned themselves with chloroquine". These stories were sensationally irresponsible. The truth is that the victims were not under a doctor's supervision, not sick with COVID or anything else, but scared enough to go to the pet store and buy an aquarium tank-cleaning product that lists chloroquine as one ingredient.
Neither Trump nor Fauci has a lot of credibility, but I lean toward thinking Trump is on the right track. For the small number of people who are desperately ill with COVID, chloroquine is their best shot at recovery, and it shouldn't be denied to them. If we allow doctors to experiment with patients who want chloroquine, then we can collect stories and statistics and learn from their experience.
Meanwhile, if a vaccine is rushed to market without clinical trials or even safety tests, the results may be more disastrous than the epidemic itself. Pharma researchers have been searching for a coronavirus vaccine for decades now, and made little progress. Too many test animals have died of the vaccine, and small mutations of the virus tend to make the vaccine ineffective after a short time.