Remdesivir’s connection to a pharmaceutical company also taps into suspicions on the right that corporate executives are trying to rake in huge profits from the coronavirus. Hydroxychloroquine, on the other hand, is already widely available in generic form.
These factors were likely enough to turn off people who had been using hydroxychloroquine as a political rallying cry, said David Rapp, a psychology professor at Northwestern University who studies how misinformation shapes beliefs and memory.
The hydroxychloroquine boosters, he said, “might find the alternative idea as not being pure, in the sense that it doesn’t come from Trump. It’s coming from other sources that they might not trust.”
The MAGA base’s suspicions about remdesivir began shortly after Fauci on Wednesday announced the results of a government-sponsored clinical trial that showed that the drug shortened recovery time for coronavirus patients, calling it a “clear-cut, positive” development in the fight against the coronavirus. Fauci also made clear that this is a first step; more research needs to be done into this and other potential treatments.
That night, Ingraham devoted a segment of her show that night arguing on behalf of hydroxychloroquine. Ingraham first suggested that remdesivir could present dangers, urging restraint until government regulators like the Food and Drug Administration could thoroughly review the treatment.
“It hasn’t been approved by the FDA,” she said. “They might do emergency authorization. Hydroxychloroquine was approved decades ago.”
The FDA — which Fauci does not run — in fact did move swiftly. On Friday it issued an emergency-use authorization to help patients get quicker access to remdesivir, the first antiviral to show promise against Covid-19 infection.
Ingraham added that remdesivir, as a new drug, could be expensive, whereas “hydroxychloroquine is obviously cheap and already readily available.” She then brought out a doctor who defended hydroxychloroquine as “safe” and expressed worries that remdesivir, originally developed to fight Ebola, could be dangerous.
The original promoters of hydroxychloroquine also chimed in with their concerns about remdesivir after Fauci’s announcement. James Todaro, a bitcoin investor who cobbled together a Google Doc pitching hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment that was widely circulated in conservative circles and caught the attention of Fox News, noted that several members on the government panel making treatment recommendations for coronavirus were affiliated with Gilead.