It goes without saying that the spread of COVID-19 across the globe has forced scholars and healthcare providers to undertake all efforts to find appropriate treatment. In March 2020, Didier Raoult, the prominent French microbiologist, suggested the combination of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine as an efficient remedy for the coronavirus. His reputation and self-confidence led to numerous trials in France, China, Italy, India, and other countries – even Donald Trump was eager to try “a miracle cure” embracing this possibility (Sayare, 2020). However, in the present day, additional studies conducted by respectable scientists proved that the combination of a common antibiotic and an antimalarial drug might be regarded as a placebo treatment as it neither prevents nor cures COVID-19.
Both azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine are widely prescribed, well-tolerated, and well-characterized medications. As the most frequently prescribed antimalarial drug, hydroxychloroquine is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, Raoult discovered the efficiency of hydroxychloroquine against Q fever and Whipple’s disease, and it strengthened his belief in the efficacy of his remedy against COVID-19 (Sayare, 2020). Indeed, during the early stages of the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were regarded as potential drugs for the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus. However, according to Bhagteshwar Singh, Clinical Research Fellow at the Institute of Infection, Veterinary & Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, “evidence from initial studies was inadequate, but more recent reports from larger trials meant we could conclude in our review that hydroxychloroquine is not beneficial for patients with COVID-19 who require care in hospital” (Cochrane, 2021, para. 5). All in all, fourteen trials were conducted aiming to evaluate the efficiency of hydroxychloroquine for the management of the coronavirus, and according to them it does not reduce coronavirus-related mortality, does not affect the well-being of patients who require ventilation, and may cause serious adverse effects.
From a personal perspective, Raoult is an excellent example of how excellent skills and professionalism may be negatively affected by publicity. On the one hand, defining his contribution to microbiology is unreasonable. Believing that “science, and life ought to be a fight,” Raoult was committed to science (Sayare, 2020, p. 1). As a result, he helped to identify and describe multiple novel species of human-borne bacteria looking “where no one else cares to, with methods no one else is using” (Sayare, 2020, p. 1). However, his achievements and their public recognition led to Raoult’s strong belief in his uniqueness and inability to admit his mistakes. On the contrary, he perceives his flaws as innovative thinking that others cannot understand due to their narrow-mindedness, arrogance, and unprofessionalism.
As a matter of fact, the progress of humanity is a history of rises and falls. All significant achievements followed multiple tries, efforts, and errors. That is why it is essential for every researcher to remember that his goal is to find a reliable solution that will contribute to the Commonwealth. Thus, if a solution is not effective, it is absolutely normal to search for a better one. However, scientists like Didier Raoult focus on their previous achievements and transmit their significance to new issues requiring hard work and solutions. This position is not only unacceptable – it is dangerous, especially when these scientists are responsible for solutions that affect people’s lives and may lead to tragic outcomes.
Cochrane. (2021). Is chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine useful in treating people with COVID-19 or in preventing infection in people who have been exposed to the virus? Cochrane. Web.
Sayare, S. (2020). He was a science star. Then he promoted a questionable cure for Covid-19. The New York Times Magazine. Web.