This story has been updated with a response from Marilyn Gladu.
In the middle of a deadly pandemic that has shut down most travel and gatherings, former Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu hyped a drug endorsed by U.S. President Donald Trump (who has a financial interest in it, according to the New York Times) and called for Canadians to get back to work soon.
Gladu echoed Trump’s talking points about hydroxychloroquine, which is a proven treatment for malaria, arthritis, and lupus. The drug’s effectiveness in treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is still being tested in clinical trials all over the world. The CIA has warned its employees not to take it because of its side effects, including death. But that hasn’t stopped Trump (or Gladu) from promoting it as a “game-changer.”
“In the United States they’ve been successful with the treatment of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc sulfate,” Gladu told Blackburn News on Wednesday. “They’ve tried this on thousands of COVID patients, with nearly 100 percent recovery rate, and so the FDA has approved this as an emergency measure, but Canada has not.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved emergency hydroxychloroquine prescriptions in some cases last month, but has stated it still does not meet all federal requirements.
VICE reached out to Gladu to ask for evidence to back her “nearly 100 percent recovery rate” claim, but did not immediately hear back. Scientists have cautioned against over-promising before clinical trials are complete, citing concerns about shortages and potentially deadly side effects.
Canada’s top doctors say physical distancing measures are required to prevent the country’s health system from being overwhelmed, and that lifting them prematurely could result in a new wave of infections and death.
Gladu told Blackburn News that lost business should be considered alongside lost lives.
“Every (COVID-19) death is tragic. But, the reality is more people are dying of suicide, more people are dying from cancer and smoking and we don’t shut the economy down for that,” she said. “So, where we see that there’s a remedy available and we see that for most of the population this is not a concern, people are losing their businesses in Sarnia-Lambton, they’re losing their livelihoods and there’s no end in sight.”
Gladu responded to the Blackburn News story on Twitter, claiming her comments were taken out of context. "My comments were taken out of context and do not accurately represent the full plan needed. We are in an unprecedented health crisis right now and Canadians rely on advice from health experts that is based on evidence and research," she tweeted.
Gladu served as the Conservative party’s shadow health minister from August 2017 until October 2019.
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