Even better than hydroxychloroquine!

I can cure the common cold. You may not believe it, but it’s true, and I have followed an established scientific protocol, the same as this study.

Two weeks ago, French doctors published a provocative observation in a microbiology journal. In the absence of a known treatment for COVID-19, the doctors had taken to experimentation with a potent drug known as hydroxychloroquine. For decades, the drug has been used to treat malaria—which is caused by a parasite, not a virus. In six patients with COVID-19, the doctors combined hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin (known to many as “Z-Pak,” an antibiotic that kills bacteria, not viruses) and reported that after six days of this regimen, all six people tested negative for the virus.

My protocol is easy. If you come down with the sniffles and watery eyes and stuffy nose of a cold, you just let spiders run around on your face, wait a few days, and your symptoms will fade away. You may argue that my n is very small and that I lack a control, but look — I’m just following the French model.

Unfortunately, I lack the endorsement of Dr Oz (so far — I expect he’ll jump on my bandwagon any day now, it’s what he does). I also haven’t hidden away any complications.

The report was not a randomized clinical trial—one in which many people are followed to see how their health fares, not simply whether a virus is detectable. And Oz’s “100 percent” interpretation involves conspicuous omissions. According to the study itself, three other patients who received hydroxychloroquine were too sick to be tested for the virus by day six (they were intubated in the ICU). Another had a bad reaction to the drug and stopped taking it. Another was not tested because, by day six, he had died.

I rather expect that a few people might have a bad reaction to my spider protocol, too, but at least I can say that no one has died of my treatment. I wouldn’t expect them to, since spiders are far more benign than hydroxychloroquine.

Even in people without the disease, hydroxychloroquine’s potentially harmful effects range from vomiting and headaches to instances of psychosis, loss of vision, and even sudden cardiac death. The drug is to be used with caution in people with heart conditions and liver dysfunction—both of which the coronavirus can itself cause.

Who knows? Maybe my spider protocol will also cure another viral disease, COVID-19. I’ve been handling spiders for a couple of years now, and note that I don’t have the disease. It could be a preventative. Extrapolating from these observations, maybe I have a true panacea scampering over my hands and nesting in my beard. What have you got to lose? Try it.

I’m just asking for $10 million to expand my colony (we’re going to need a lot of spiders) and that we take a couple of biomedical research labs offline to dedicate themselves to carrying out clinical trials of my cure. That’s all.

Hey! I just noticed that I don’t have cancer, or psoriasis, or guinea worm, or ebola. Spiders must cure everything! I’m gonna have to ask for more money. A dedicated research building? A few hundred assistants?

What have you got to lose?


  1. Bruce Fuentes says

    It is kind off like the Elephant repellent I have in my yard. How do I know it works? I haven’t seen any elephants yet.

  2. says

    So the disease that makes most people sick for about a week can be “cured” with this medicine in 6 days? Wait how long is a week again? Just want to point out that the study from that French doctor has 24 patients total, had no real scientific rigor. Ahh here we are,

    The guy has “published” 3000 scientific papers over his career. He’s like a diploma mill embodied in a single person. The Trump admin’s tendency to just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks is getting people killed.
    Chloroquine may help if the patient has developed pneumonia-like symptoms but that’s way down the line. It is NOT going to prevent infection. Trying to use it that way is just fucking stupid. It is NOT A CURE. It is a therapy that can be applies in a specific edge case where the patient has already developed symptoms and may have developed a secondary infection. Even then only maybe. It may also work as an immuno-suppresant, mitigating the effects of the “cytokine storm”. But again, we just don’t know.

    We do know that chloroquine will kill you in large amounts. That is a fact. Trump is basing national medical policy on garbage science, from a garbage doctor.

  3. offthewall says

    People seem to love anecdotes. Anecdotes are not necessarily nonscientific. I have used anecdotes to illustrate points in otherwise statistical analyses. But anecdotal evidence is antithetical to scientific analysis. I classify it as wishful thinking. Christian testimony is nothing more than anecdotal, but I have given up trying to point out to my in-laws that the voices they seem to hear during their prayers are just their own thoughts and not evidence for the existence of God. But the hustling of hydroxychloroquine is just that–a hustle. if there are a few cases in the U.S. where the combination of hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic is associated with recovery, this administration will run with it and 1) will blame those medical scientists who argued for scientific testing and 2) some people, assuming they can be readily cured, will stop taking precautions.

  4. cartomancer says

    I’ve started taking PrEP tablets daily as a possible defense against the virus. There is a little, though not much, hope that they might have some efficacy, since they actually do contain two antiviral medications. But the side-effects are mild to nonexistent, and I spent money on all these pills last autumn, so I might as well use them for something. They’re intended to stop you getting HIV from sex, but since I’m in my mid 30s I don’t get any of that anymore anyway. In retrospect the purchase was perhaps wishful thinking.

    At any rate, it may have efficacy as a placebo.

  5. says

    @4 Well at least it’s an antiviral. That may help. I think they’re trialing something similar here at Providence in Portland right now. Good thing you have your supply secured. From what I read in the Oregonian last week, they want to expand the study but they can’t get enough of the drugs to do it.

  6. keinsignal says

    An all-organic treatment using things you can find around the house? Somebody call the Goop people, I think we’ve got a real winner here!

  7. says

    The evidence for hydroxychloroquine isn’t quite so bad as that. It certainly isn’t enough to actual conclude that it is going to be a good treatment, but enough to pursue as possible as a good treatment. I’ll link to a podcast that I like for those interested in a more thorough analysis.

  8. raven says

    The drug is to be used with caution in people with heart conditions and liver dysfunction—
    both of which the coronavirus can itself cause.

    This is a finding that hasn’t been noticed enough as of yet.
    Because way too many other horrible things are still happening.


    Mysterious Heart Damage, Not Just Lung Troubles, Befalling COVID-19 Patients By Markian Hawryluk APRIL 6, 2020

    While the focus of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on respiratory problems and securing enough ventilators, doctors on the front lines are grappling with a new medical mystery.

    In addition to lung damage, many COVID-19 patients are also developing heart problems — and dying of cardiac arrest.

    As more data comes in from China and Italy, as well as Washington state and New York, more cardiac experts are coming to believe the COVID-19 virus can infect the heart muscle. An initial study found cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those who show no signs of respiratory distress.

    We know that heart damage is happening among Covid-19 patients.
    The mechanism(s) are still obscure.
    It could be due to direct infection by the virus of the heart or indirect due to hypoxia, overactive immune systems, and general stress.
    It is quite likely both.

  9. raven says

    Introduction. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is one of the antimalarial drugs that have been used for decades to treat rheumatic diseases (1). Retinal toxicity, neuromyopathy, and cardiac toxicity are recognized toxicities following prolonged use (1).

    Hydroxychloroquine-induced cardiomyopathy and heart ..
    .www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › pmc › articles › PMC5863196

    Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are known to be potentially cardiotoxic themselves, including QT interval prolongation (this is not good).

    So people are adding a potentially cardiotoxic drug to a viral infection that itself is known to damage the heart.
    What could go wrong here?

  10. raven says

    I should add here that I’m not saying the chloroquine has no activity against Covid-19 pneumonia.
    The hurried studies with small sample sizes have said, both that it does and that it doesn’t.

    What we need is a real randomized, controlled clinical trial to answer the question.
    Which are underway right now.

    It might have some place in treating patients in this pandemic.
    It’s been used enough that we can say one thing for sure.
    It’s no magic bullet and it might help but it’s not a cure for anything.

  11. christoph says

    There was an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies in which Granny had a cure for the common cold. You just took the remedy, and in a week to 10 days the cold would be gone!

  12. leerudolph says

    @2: ” Wait how long is a week again?”

    Well, this was in France, so it’s huit jours (and two weeks would be quinze jours). The French they are a funny race, as the song puts it.

  13. sergeantmeowenstein says

    There’s a wonderful answer on Quora from the physicist Richard Muller about this miracle “cure:”
    Speaking as a physicist-in-training, this post is an absolutely perfect illustration of the reason people hate physicists. (Obligatory xkcd reference: https://xkcd.com/793/)

  14. sergeantmeowenstein says

    Addendum to the above: Read the comments, they’re hilarious. “IDK Richard, maybe you should trust the experts on this one” –> “BUT I USE STATISTICS SOMETIMES”
    Favorite quote: “…I conclude that the statistical significance of their observation is very high, much higher than we normally require for a physics discovery. Given the enormous negative consequences of dismissing this as a possible cure, we need to reevaluate the standards used by the medical community to see if they are overly cautious.”
    PZ, I would suggest you reply either on Quora or by email, but it seems extremely likely that any criticism would fall on deaf ears here.

  15. robro says

    The Trump admin’s tendency to just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks is getting people killed.

    And particularly anything that might involve sending dollars to the Trump empire, people getting killed be damned. Not only does Trump Org have a “small” stake in one of the makers, a couple of the pharmaceuticals that make this and the other med Trump peddles have a sketchy relationship with the man.

  16. jrkrideau says

    15 sergeantmeowenstein
    Contest of the month
    Who is the most arrogant: The Physicist, the Surgeon or the Economist?
    Please submit entries by 2020-04-30.

  17. jrkrideau says

    I have read that hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine was an over-the-counter drug in France and a popular way to commit suicide. [That’s what happens when you don’t have a heavily armed population.]

    Since the Raoult paper, it is now controlled, if for no other reason than to ensure supplies for patients who really need it.

    As an aside Elsevier seems to be sinking towards bottom feeding publisher status fast.

  18. says

    @#8, raven:

    On an extremely distantly related note: it has been suggested that the mysterious encephalitis lethargica epidemic of the 1920s (the “sleepy sickness”) was actually the manifestation of brain damage from the influenza epidemic a few years earlier. However, apparently this is not the case — I was going to bring the theory up, decided to look it up in Wikipedia to verify the spelling if nothing else, and discovered that in the last decade it has been more-or-less conclusively attributed to an enterovirus instead, which just happened to have a small epidemic of its own in the 20s. (I post this here so anybody else who knew of the speculation about causation by flu can see it.)

  19. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    FWIW, I have taken chloroquine prophylactically against malaria a few times. I was lucky in that the only side effect I had were the very weird and vivid dreams that are common with quinine-based drugs. I did know others who had more severe side effects–mainly gastrointestinal, but some psychological.

    The main issue I see here is that there is zero reliable evidence that this stuff does jack against the Rona. The original study that got the Faux News crowd so excited was extremely flawed, and the governing body for the journal where it appeared seems to be on the verge of recommending retraction.
    So why are the RWNJs so hot on this drug? It’s a magic bullet they can use as an excuse for opening up the economy and Rethug donors have big stakes in the company that makes the drug. And of course, they don’t care if you die.

  20. magistramarla says

    I’ve also taken hydroxychloroquine, for Sjogren’s Syndrome, the autoimmune issue with which I am plagued. It does provide some mild relief from some of my symptoms, most notably sore joints, but I have always been glad when my rheumatologist would decide to take me off of it. It tends to give me heartburn, for which my doctor would glibly prescribe Nexium or Prilosec. This was a case needing to take a worse medication to mitigate the side effects caused by the first medication. I truly hate taking Nexium or Prilosec. Since we recently moved, my prescription for hydroxychloroquine was not renewed, and I didn’t request it.
    The joints in my hands are a bit swollen and sore, but the pain would have to get worse to make me want to take it again.
    That being said, there are those with many worse autoimmune symptoms than mine who are suffering because this drug has become so difficult to get. For people with lupus, hydroxychloroquine can be lifesaving. I’ve read that the orange moron has ordered that it be stockpiled. Now he’s going to be responsible for even more deaths.