‘America’s frontline doctor’ faces backlash over COVID-19 treatment claims

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – An Alabama doctor is facing a backlash from the medical community for remarks he made this week in Washington, D.C. supporting the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.

Dr. David Calderwood, of Huntsville, spoke as part of a group of doctors who are calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors.”  The family physician of over 39 years told sister station WHNT, “If you do it right, it works amazingly well.”

Numerous health studies, as well as federal and state health officials, have concluded that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for COVID-19 and that it potentially carries with it serious health risks if misprescribed. 

Calderwood’s controversial comments, along with those of the other doctors, went viral after President Trump retweeted them Monday. That video was later deleted by Twitter and by other social media platforms for containing misinformation.

In a second video posted by the group, Calderwood urges Americans to tweet President Trump and demand hydroxychloroquine. Calderwood added, “Get it and you can save your life and many others.”

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s Division of Infectious Diseases, called Calderwood and his colleagues’ remarks in the video, “irresponsible and, frankly, really despicable.” Marrazzo added, “We have excellent, high-level evidence from clinical trials showing that it doesn’t work and that it has some bad side effects.”

Calderwood told WHNT he believes those studies are fraudulent and part of a “multinational collusion” conspiracy. “They’re basing it on science that has been done fraudulently, incorrectly, too late.” Calderwood said. The doctor said he believes government, tech, and pharmaceutical companies are colluding to make money off an alternative and approved treatment for COVID-19 called remdesivir. 

“These are people who are posing as physicians, who to me are violating the Hippocratic Oath, which is first, do no harm,” responded Dr. Marrazzo. “By getting up there, and distributing information, with the badge of their white coats, and their degrees behind them, to me it’s one of the few things that really upsets me. It’s really unacceptable.”

Another doctor who appears on the since-removed viral video, Dr. Stella Immanuel of Houston, who also leads a church in Texas, claimed to have treated patients successfully with hydroxychloroquine. On the video Immanuel states, “Nobody needs to get sick – this virus has a cure. It’s called hydroxychloroquine zinc, and zithromax. I know people want to talk about masks. Hello, you don’t need masks.”

Immanuel has a history of making bizarre statements, CNN reports, including claims that doctors are using DNA from aliens to make medicine or that “tormenting spirits” can be the cause of gynecological problems.

Calderwood told WHNT, “I can vouch for her medical credibility. I don’t know anything else about her.” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who remains a steadfast advocate of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday. “Overwhelming, prevailing, clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective,” Fauci said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Calderwood told WHNT he is still trying to prescribe hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, and, as of now, all of his prescriptions have been denied.

A spokesperson for Huntsville Hospital, with which Dr. Calderwood is affiliated, released the following statement Wednesday. “The Huntsville Hospital will not comment on the physician’s opinions or comments on tape.” 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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