On Dr. Stella Immanuel

So I’ve seen the video circulating from a press conference given by a group of physicians in Texas headed by Dr. Stella Immanuel. We’ve all seen it by now. In it she passionately claims that there is a cure for COVID-19 and that is a combination of hydroxychloriquine, zinc, and z-packs. She was immediately ridiculed and dismissed, but on what basis? Here are the major arguments I’ve heard:

  • She’s a charismatic minister
  • She believes that certain medical conditions are caused by demons
  • She believes in alien DNA
  • She’s a conspiracy theorist
  • She has only anecdotal evidence
  • The treatment she recommends is not FDA approved

Much of this is ad hominem. Rather than attacking her claims people have been attacking her character. So what if she’s a charismatic minister? Does that inhibit her ability to practice medicine?

So what if she believes that certain physical conditions have spiritual causes? That’s actually a biblical concept, but even if she’s wrong about that it doesn’t necessitate that she’s wrong about this.

So what if she buys into conspiracy theories? To start, every alleged conspiracy theory isn’t so farfetched as some would have us believe. Second, even if every last one of them was, just because she’s wrong about these conspiracies doesn’t mean she’s wrong about this.

The claim to anecdotal evidence is probably the strongest of the group, but we can’t dismiss anecdotal evidence wholesale. She’s not the only physician who has claimed to have had success with hydroxychloriquine. And our culture is apt to accept anecdotal evidence when it fits a narrative we deem worthy.

And finally, the treatment is not FDA approved. Well, we wouldn’t expect it to be yet, would we? COVID-19 hasn’t been around for that long and from what I’ve read there haven’t been many randomized trials testing HDQ’s efficacy. The one I read about this morning was a bit janky in nature as they recruited participants through social media, mailed them the drugs/placebos, and depended on the candidates to report the results.

Update: At the time of writing this post I was unaware that the FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) based on early evidence that HDQ worked . https://www.fda.gov/media/136784/download They have since revoked the authorization, saying that the potential cardiac risks outweigh the potential benefits of the drug in COVID-19 patients according to clinical trials. I plan to research these trials but my basic point still stands with regard to the ad hominem rejection of Dr. Immanuel’s claims. There’s a reason that the FDA objection is last on my list. It’s the one I’ve seen the least when it seems to me that this would be the one that people would want to cite the most if the science is in their favor.

So while those who are dismissing Dr. Immanuel wholesale are going about smugly congratulating themselves for landing on the side of sanity, ask yourself this: why are you really so quick to dismiss Dr. Immanuel? Is it because she holds some beliefs that you personally find incredible or ridiculous? If so then do you recognize that’s fallacious?

If there haven’t been enough randomized trials then any claim to the ineffectiveness of the treatment is just as anecdotal as claims to its effectiveness. Why do you side with those who claim to have not had success rather than with those who claim to have had some? And not for nothing, if chloriquine worked in inhibiting SARS then is it really crazy to think that hydroxychloriquine could possibly have some effectiveness in treating SARS-COV-2?

Also, if you contracted COVID-19 and developed serious symptoms, wouldn’t you want to try anything possible to combat it? I know I would.

I suspect that the majority of people railing against Dr. Immanuel and her claims to success wouldn’t be quite so skeptical and dismissive had President Trump not mentioned the drug a couple of months ago.

In the end I pray that Dr. Immanuel is correct and that this is an effective treatment. I also recognize that she likely over-spoke in claiming this a definitive cure. Even proven treatments for certain ailments aren’t always effective in everyone. But if we want to dismiss her claims we need to come up with better reasons than she believes in alien sperm and deep state conspiracies.



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