Politics

This Liberal MP Is Obsessed With Hydroxychloroquine, The Drug Loved By Conspiracy Theorists

"All Craig Kelly knows how to do is post about hydroxycloroquine, inspect historical weather records, deny climate change, eat hot chips and lie."

Liberal MP Craig Kelly has taken a break from his regular scheduled programming — that is, denying climate science — and redirected his focus to the drug that conspiracy theorists the world over are now obsessed with.

Kelly is the Liberal Member for Hughes in Sydney’s South, and over the weekend he basically turned his Facebook page into a glorified fan page for hydroxychloroquine.

If that long and difficult-to-spell word sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the drug that’s been championed by Donald Trump and the far-right as a miracle cure for coronavirus — something that has not been proven in any large scale study.

Over a two day period Kelly wrote 19 Facebook posts promoting the drug, and accused those who aren’t convinced of being on the wrong side of an “ideological war”. We won’t dignify the dangerous claims posted by sharing them here.

He alleged that any claims hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work are a hoax, says people who back the drug are being censored, and questioned whether Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews should go to jail for 25 years “for continuing to ban hydroxychloroquine”.

“There is a special place in hell awaiting those that have been part of the war on Hydroxychloroquine for poltical [sic] reasons. They have the blood of tens of thousands on their hands,” Mr Kelly posted on Monday morning.

Kelly also said the ABC should be defunded for an article they published on how those who believe in its efficacy are “entirely disconnected from the science“. The article in questions does a great job of explaining how misinformation turned the drug into a political football for the far-right, and is worth checking out.

Why Are People Obsessed With This Drug?

The hydroxychloroquine narrative has been a popular one because it offers what we all want: a cheap, immediate cure.

Studies have not shown it to be effective, but that’s just led to conspiracy theorists incorporating it into one of their many narratives. Some believe the government is lying about the oral drug so it can forcibly vaccinate people; some are just desperate for any cure to be found so this can all be over. Others simply seem happy to align themselves with whatever ideological distrust of the official establishment is most in vogue, regardless of what it is.

Prior to 2020, hydroxychloroquine was mostly known for treating malaria and autoimmune diseases like lupus, but it rose to prominence as a possible “cure” for coronavirus after a small, uncontrolled French study found it helped some patients. Despite the study being done with no control group to compare the results against (not to mention underwhelming results from other trials), the results were seized upon by President Donald Trump.

Crucially, this is the same man who thought injecting disinfectant into the body was a good idea.

In Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration has strongly discouraged the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of a clinical setting due to the serious side effects associated with the drug, including irreversible eye damage, impacts on blood sugar, and increased risk of heart attacks.

In March the TGA placed restrictions on who could prescribe the drug due to the risk of adverse effects, the limited evidence of its effectiveness against COVID-19, and fears that an increase in prescriptions could lead to a shortage for people who actually need it for existing conditions.