The Washington Post published a remarkable story by Philip Bump about Trump’s ongoing battle with medical research. Any researcher who challenges the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, he believes, is a political enemy, a “Never Trumper.”

Trump doesn’t believe in science.

He says he is taking the drug to prove that it works. How does he know it works? People have told him so.

He is a very stupid, narcissistic man.

There was a specific reason for President Trump’s sudden announcement on Monday that he was taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine. His goal was to undermine a whistleblower who had raised questions about the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a whistleblower who claimed that it was his skepticism about the utility of the drug that led to his firing.

How could hydroxychloroquine be as dangerous as former top vaccine official Rick Bright suggested, Trump offered, given that he himself was using it?


The revelation quickly prompted reporters to ask what evidence Trump had that the drug was at all efficacious in addressing the virus and disease it causes, covid-19.

Simple, Trump replied: Lots of people called him and said it worked.
“

The only negative I’ve heard was the study where they gave it — was it the VA?” Trump said, referring to the Department of Veterans Affairs. “With, you know, people that aren’t big Trump fans gave it.”

He then went on to express surprise at this perceived disloyalty from VA, given the legislation he had signed to support it. (The legislation he mentioned was in fact first signed by President Barack Obama.)


This idea that there was this study undercutting the utility of the drug Trump has been championing for two months clearly stuck with the president.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon after a meeting with Republican senators, he again disparaged the study.
“If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old. Almost dead,” Trump said. He described the study as “a Trump-enemy statement.”


A few hours later, again pressed on his use of the drug for an unproven purpose, Trump again suggested that opposition to it was simply political.
“There was a false study done where they gave it to very sick people, extremely sick people, people that were ready to die,” he said.

“It was given by obviously not friends of the administration.” He later added that it “was a phony study and it’s very dangerous to do it.”


As is often the case, Trump is repeating one of his go-to lines even in a situation where it doesn’t really make sense. Every time someone on television criticizes him, that person is necessarily a never-Trumper.

When administration officials raise questions about his actions or leadership? Never-Trumpers. The people who testified against him in his impeachment inquiry were never-Trumpers, even when they were apolitical or Republican. And, now, this study — necessarily a product of opposition to him and his administration.


It’s a bizarre claim in general, that a team of seven doctors would conspire to study the efficacy of an antimalarial drug to undermine the president politically.

But it’s an even more ridiculous claim when you consider how the study was completed.
The team of researchers from various institutions including the University of South Carolina and the University of Virginia used data on every person admitted to a VA hospital with covid-19 until April 11. They assessed whether the patients had been administered hydroxychloroquine, with or without the accompanying drug azithromycin. What they determined was that there was no identifiable improvement in outcome for those who received the drug and, in fact, that the drug was associated with an increased risk of death.


In other words, there was no cherry-picking of specific patients to identify those most likely to succumb to the illness.

As VA Secretary Robert Wilkie pointed out during the Cabinet meeting, it was also not the case that this was a VA study.
“Researchers took VA numbers and they did not clinically review them. They were not peer-reviewed,” Wilkie said. “They did not even look at what the president just mentioned — the various co-morbidities that the patients that were referenced in that study had.”
That’s true, because the research was an after-the-fact assessment of outcomes. (Wilkie did not suggest that bias motivated the results.)

It was also not the only study to find no obvious benefit from the drug.


Another study, looking at more than 1,400 patients in New York, also determined that hydroxychloroquine had no significant effect on improving patients’ conditions.

A study in Brazil found an associated increase in deaths from the use of chloroquine, a drug related to hydroxychloroquine.

Late last month, the Food and Drug Administration warned against the use of the drugs outside of a clinical setting, given concerns about dangerous heart-related side effects. (Asked Tuesday about the FDA’s guidance about use in hospitals, Trump said that was “not what I was told.”)


Again, there’s no evidence at all that the study was spurred by opposition to Trump. What’s more, there’s no evidence that the study was structured in a way that the results would reflect poorly on the medications. It is also not the case that this was the only study that failed to demonstrate efficacy of the medication.


However, Trump has decided the result is indicative of how opposition to his repeated promotion of hydroxychloroquine is somehow politically motivated.

Because for this president, anyone who doesn’t agree with Trump completely almost necessarily opposes him entirely.