Please bear with me as this fact-checking the fact-checker can be tedious.
USA TODAY (online) published an article on December 26, 2020, titled: Your guide to coronavirus and Covid-19. Buried within the article’s content is a section denoted as rumors, which takes you to a list dated December 21, 2020. It is there where if you scroll down the list, you will see a link to a fact check dated August 19, 2020, titled: Fact-check: Fauci did not approve Hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronaviruses in 2005.
Why the reading roadmap? Great question, and here is your answer. Imagine my surprise when today, the day after Christmas, I am just now learning of the USA TODAY Fact check naming an article this author wrote back on May 5, 2020! However tedious it might be this far down the track, I deconstructed today’s story to find the Right Wire Report linkage and now find myself writing my complete rebuttal of said fact-checkers claims.
The writer for USA TODAY, Camille Caldera, attempts to debunk specifically stated claims by listing a series of published articles about Dr. Fauci and the drug Hydroxychloroquine but tacks on our Right Wire Report article to her list, which made none of the core claims she listed. Caldera appears to pivot, throwing in at the tail end of her list my article’s premise, which after all is a question – as if it was a statement of fact she could debunk.
This is the sole passage in the article that relates to the Right Wire Report article:
“The Right Wire Report claims in a separate story that Fauci must have had knowledge of the study from 2005. Why is Dr. Fauci acting as if he knows nothing about the effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine? the story asks. The Right Wire Report did not respond to a request from USA TODAY for comment.”
The rebuttal for the record:
- The Right Wire Report did not receive contact from Ms. Caldera or any entity from USA TODAY. Our organization is a young and aspiring group – we would not overlook an email from a major publication or a minor one, for that matter! To put it bluntly … this was simply not true.
- In Caldera’s article, The Claim: Dr. Anthony Fauci knew of and approved of the use of hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronaviruses in 2005. My article made no such assertion that Dr. Fauci had approved of the use of hydroxychloroquine or that he labeled it as a cure. I provided direct video statements and congressional testimony from Fauci that call into question his lack of recall of a specific study that indicated the drug might have therapeutic promising application.
- Per our article: Chloroquine (HydroxyChoroquine is a less toxic derivative of Chloroquine). Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a more soluble and less toxic metabolite of chloroquine, which causes fewer side effects and is, therefore, considered safer on its own. The Virology Journal study’s title is “Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread.”
- Per our article: The Virology Journal is officially published through the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and is part of the United States National Library of Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist, has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984. NIAID is one of 27 institutes that make up the NIH. Dr. Fauci is the lead Medical Expert on the President’s Corona Task Force.
- Per our article: The study can be read here. Summary :
The researchers reported:
“We report, however, that chloroquine has strong antiviral effects on SARS-CoV infection of primate cells. These inhibitory effects are observed when the cells are treated with the drug either before or after exposure to the virus, suggesting both prophylactic and therapeutic advantages. In addition to the well-known functions of chloroquine, such as elevations of endosomal pH, the drug appears to interfere with terminal glycosylation of the cellular receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. This may negatively influence the virus-receptor binding and abrogate the infection, with further ramifications by the elevation of vesicular pH, resulting in the inhibition of infection and the spread of SARS CoV at clinically admissible concentrations.”
The researchers concluded:
“Chloroquine is effective in preventing the spread of SARS CoV in cell culture. Favorable inhibition of virus spread was observed when the cells were either treated with chloroquine prior to or after SARS CoV infection. In addition, the indirect immunofluorescence assay described herein represents a simple and rapid method for screening SARS-CoV antiviral compounds.“
“Chloroquine, a relatively safe, effective, and cheap drug used for treating many human diseases including malaria, amoebiosis, and human immunodeficiency virus, is effective in inhibiting the infection and spread of SARS CoV in cell culture. The fact that the drug had a significant inhibitory antiviral effect when the susceptible cells were treated either prior to or after infection suggests a possible prophylactic and therapeutic use.“
The rebuttal for the record continued:
- Per our article ” Please note this research was conducted with cell culture conditions or in-vitro. There was no introduction into infected hosts, animal, or human trials. “
- Per our article: Right Wire Report ponders a simple question: Why is Dr. Fauci acting as if he knows nothing about the effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine?
- Per our article: Two videos, one Fauci is calling any talk of this drug used as clearly anecdotal and not studied. The other is Fauci’s testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee in March 2020, specifically about the SARS vaccine study and how it is the jumping-off point for COVID vaccine research. Is it possible he would not have read the available NIH specific research?
- Per Fauci’s testimony:” The CDC and Dr. Fauci have told us the COVID-19, which is labeled SARS-CoV-2, is closely genetically related, sharing 70% of its genome. Both Coronaviruses use the same host cell receptor, which is what viruses use to gain entry to the cell and infect the victim. Testing has been formulated as SARS -CoV-2 as well.”
- Per our article: “Surely, Dr. Fauci was aware of the research published through NCBI back in 2005? After all, it was done following the SARS outbreak of 2003 in a quest by his organization, NIH, to develop a treatment of vaccine for SARS. Dr, Fauci’s statements made it appear that this was new information related to this outbreak only, and we would be at the beginning of exploring this clinical hypothesis.” The premise of the article was layered with cited sources to support said premise or inquiry.
- Per our article: The last paragraph leaves the article’s premise open-ended as in a question, not a statement of absolute fact.
The Right Wire Report is not immune to making errors in reporting, as no publishing organization could be. We welcome fact checks and are eager to correct the record accordingly. But we expect the fact-checkers to read our articles in context and entirety to assess any disputes fairly. And we expect to be judged on a stand-alone, apart from other publications as well, on the veracity and merit of our content.
If Ms. Caldera chooses to believe the NIH point man on infectious disease and pandemics for the United States government, who happened to be intimately involved with the SARS outbreak and testified about the race to develop therapeutics/vaccines, should not be expected to know about a profound outcome of a study related to Fauci’s goals and responsibilities – that is her free will. But that does not mean she can decide what an accurate question about the Dr. is or is not and label it under a fact check is. While Ms. Caldera got it wrong this time, we will refrain from assigning any bias or intent.
The greater issue beyond this specific issue is truth in journalism. Just because one works for a large media organization does not mean they have any more truth than others. One always needs to read information with discernment. Truth is sorely missing in journalism today.
USA Today nor Ms. Caldera responded to a request from the Right Wire Report for comment … 😉