Ladapo’s claims, beliefs are a concern

The following editorial was published in The Daily Sun on March 23, 2023.

OUR POSITION: Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo is not protecting Florida residents by spouting his theories and opinions on COVID that run counter to all medical knowledge we have about the disease.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo is doing no favors for people who are in danger of COVID or who have COVID.

The doctor, hired by Gov. Ron DeSantis to cater to a strong far-right base that believes COVID was overhyped by government, is wrong to dismiss COVID as a serious threat and even more irresponsible to continue to hail hydroxychloroquine as a cure.

We should remind Ladapo that there have been 7.5 million cases of COVID in Florida as of last week. And, nearly 90,000 Florida residents have died from the disease. Most of us probably know someone who succumbed to COVID.

Those numbers don’t seem to faze Ladapo. He takes pride in being against vaccination for COVID. He has written nationally published essays saying there are risks by taking the COVID vaccine. At the same time he continues to praise hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure.

This thinking goes against everything doctors have found in studies of the disease.

The Miami Herald reported in an editorial that Ladapo appeared in a 2020 video produced by a group called America’s Frontline Doctors — organized, in part, by the Tea Party Patriots — pushing hydroxychloroquine as a possible COVID treatment. Also in the video was Stella Immanuel, a Houston physician who “reportedly has claimed that ailments like cysts and endometriosis are caused by sex dreams about demons and witches, among other preposterous ideas,” according to the Miami Herald piece.

Does this sound like someone you should be taking advice from?

Here is what we found about hydroxychloroquine, according to MedlinePlus, an online information service produced by the United States National Library of Medicine.

MedlinePlus reports that hydroxychloroquine has been studied for the treatment and prevention of coronavirus disease since 2019.

The FDA approved an “Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on March 28, 2020 to allow distribution of hydroxychloroquine to treat adults and adolescents who weigh at least 110 pounds and who are hospitalized with COVID-19, but who are unable to participate in a clinical study. However, FDA canceled this on June 15, 2020 because clinical studies showed that hydroxychloroquine is unlikely to be effective for treatment of COVID-19 in these patients and some serious side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, were reported.”

MedlinePlus reported other side effects that can occur by using hydroxychloroquine. They include headache; loss of appetite; nausea; diarrhea; stomach pain; vomiting; difficulty hearing; ringing in ears; hair loss; and hair color changes.

Under a category on MedlinePlus titled “Special Precautions” it lists these symptoms as possible from taking hydroxychloroquine, saying contact your doctor right away if you experience: hives; rash; swelling of the face, eyes, mouth, throat, tongue, lips, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; or difficulty breathing or swallowing; blisters on the skin, eyes, lips or in the mouth; or itching or burning skin; muscle weakness; burning, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet; unusual bleeding or bruising; cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, or other signs of infection; mood or mental changes; fast or irregular heartbeat; lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting; unusual tiredness or weakness; seizures; new or worsening depression; mood changes, or if you begin thinking about harming or killing yourself.

That’s a long list of problems no one should have to be concerned with.

We find it difficult to take Ladapo seriously and we certainly don’t believe he was the best choice for surgeon general.

 Image Credits: Chris O'Mear/AP