[T]he latest video to go viral from apparent experts, quietly backed by dark money political organizations, [evangelized] treatments for or opinions about the coronavirus that most doctors, public health officials and epidemiologists have roundly decried as dangerous misinformation.
Dressed in white coats with “America’s Frontline Doctors” stitched on the chest, the stars of the Facebook video claimed that business and school closings, social distancing and even masks were not needed, because hydroxychloroquine, a drug commonly used to treat malaria, could both prevent and cure the coronavirus. In fact, the FDA has warned against using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, citing serious health effects and the conclusions from randomized clinical trials that have shown little benefit from the treatment.
“We don’t need masks. There is a cure!” said Dr. Stella Immanuel, a licensed pediatrician from Houston. In one of the event’s most fiery speeches, Immanuel… claims to have effectively treated 350 COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine out of her medical clinic, but declined to provide data.
The event was hosted and funded by the Tea Party Patriots, a right-wing political nonprofit group led by Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s co-founder, who spoke at the news conference.
The group, which collects funds through two nonprofit groups and a political action committee, has raised over $24 million since 2014 to support Republican causes and candidates.