March 17, 2021 12:00 PMOnline
The Science, Medicine, Technology and Society Working Group in Liberal Arts Presents
Hydroxychloroquine and Covid-19: clinical trials, politics and public debate
The claim that anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine can cure COVID-19 became a focus of fierce political battles that pitted “medical elites” against the promoters of this supposed curative, among them Presidents Bolsonaro and Trump.
At the center of these battles are different meanings of effectiveness in medicine, the complex role of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in proving such effectiveness, the task of medical experts and the state in regulating pharmaceuticals, patients’ activism, and the collective production of medical knowledge. My talk, grounded in a research I conducted with my colleague Luc Berlivet, follows hydroxychloroquine’s trajectory as an anti-COVID-19 drug. It will focus first on the public reception of its main scientific promoter: the French infectious disease specialist Didier Raoult. Then it follows the trajectory of this drug in France, the US, and Brazil. The surprising travels of hydroxychloroquine, I will argue, is fundamentally a political event, not in the narrow sense of engaging specific political fractions, but in the much broader sense of the politics of public participation in science.
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