Doctors who have treated a combined total of over 425 confirmed or presumptive Chinese coronavirus patients with the drug hydroxychloroquine told Breitbart News they are finding the medication to be helpful.

The doctors stressed that more long-term studies are needed to draw concrete scientific conclusions about hydroxychloroquine and Chinese coronavirus. But they said they decided to act because they felt it was safe and because the coronavirus pandemic does not leave any time to wait for what could be months or even years of clinical trials.

Their experiences are not meant to be taken as controlled scientific trials. Studies are clearly required to more conclusively determine whether the hydroxychloroquine indeed played a role in patient recovery or whether those same patients would have recovered anyway without the medication.

Even if hydroxychloroquine is found to be helpful, more research is needed to determine whether the drug needs to be combined with other medication, and which amounts should be used. Some of the doctors interviewed for this article prescribed hydroxychloroquine along with zinc sulfate, and in many cases combined the drug with an antibiotic regimen.

There are also concerns about the supply chain for hydroxychloroquine. Hospitals are reportedly seeking to stockpile the drug in anticipation of a flood of coronavirus patients and many pharmacies say they are experiencing a massive number of prescription requests for hydroxychloroquine sulfate.

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription arthritis medicine that is also used to prevent malaria, and has been prescribed to treat lupus symptoms. It is also known by the brand name Plaquenil. The extra demand could cause a shortage for lupus and arthritis patients already using the medication regularly.

Two days ago, the FDA issued emergency approval to distribute millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine to hospitals across the country for use in treating coronavirus.

The FDA’s chief scientist concluded that “based on the totality of scientific evidence available to FDA” it is “reasonable to believe that chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate may be effective for the treatment of COVID-19.”

The FDA noted the medication is currently being used in several countries to treat Chinese coronavirus and said the “known and potential benefits of chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate” outweigh “the known and potential risks” of these drugs in treating COVID-19.

‘Battlefield medicine’

The hydroxychloroquine sulfate is thought to serve as a key to force open internal cell channels, including those susceptible to coronavirus, allowing the zinc to penetrate and help line the intracellular walls to protect against coronavirus penetration. The antibiotic is meant to act against any secondary infection brought on by the coronavirus attack.

The doctors interviewed for this article practice in the hard-hit areas of New York or New Jersey. They say none of their patients experienced strong side effects from the medication cocktail.

The hydroxychloroquine treatment is not believed to kill coronavirus. Instead it could protect cellular lining from further penetration. This could mean that if it does work, the drug cocktail would likely have more success in patients who are in the early or middle stages of infection and would be less effective in those who are already in critical condition. Indeed, that is what the doctors say they have been finding.

Also, doctors affiliated with other practices or with hospitals who are using the hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic combination say they are aware of positive results.

Breitbart News also spoke with numerous patients treated by the doctors, who claim the drug helped them to recover.

“This is battlefield medicine and the use of real time frontline assessment,” said Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, who practices family medicine with mostly ultra-Orthodox Jewish patients near the Orange County, New York, village of Kiryas Joel. The tightknit community has seen a deluge of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

Zelenko has been prescribing a treatment plan of 200mg of hydroxychloroquine twice a day for 5 days, Azithromycin 500mg antibiotics once a day for 5 days, and 220mg of Zinc sulfate once a day for 5 days.

Zelenko has become one of the faces of hydroxychloroquine use for coronavirus patients after he shared his regimen with the White House, which is reportedly evaluating the plan.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, has been promoting Zelenko’s hydroxychloroquine plan, and Fox News’s Sean Hannity read from the doctor’s regimen during an interview with Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

As of this writing, Zelenko said he has seen nearly 700 coronavirus patients since the outbreak, with each diagnosed either clinically or via coronavirus testing.

He said that he selected about 200 high-risk patients to receive the hydroxychloroquine cocktail and about nearly 150 took the drugs. Six of his patients were admitted to hospitals. Two of those admitted were intubated, and four are recovering on intravenous antibiotics.

“This is better outcomes than what is being reported by other physicians,” he said.

Zelenko said that the lack of testing has been a factor, explaining that during the initial days he had to act clinically and that in recent weeks he needed to prescribe in large part based on symptoms, since he didn’t want to waste valuable time for the test results to return three days later. He said that the instant tests currently in development would be a gamechanger.

Zelenko provided a sampling of specific outcome data sets on 55 of his patients, the vast majority of whom had the outcomes of “better” or “a lot better.” He is still compiling more data sets.

While some of the treated patients did not receive coronavirus tests due to limited availability and result times, Zelenko noted the Kiryas Joel area is flooded with coronavirus patients and he has seen many patients who fit the specific symptom profile or coronavirus as opposed to a cold or the flu.

Dr. Rosy E. Joseph is a nephrologist in Hackensack, New Jersey, and has been practicing for 30 years. She graduated from Columbia University medical school. Like most area doctors, Dr. Joseph in recent weeks has experienced a surge in coronavirus patients.

As a kidney specialist, Joseph has been using hydroxychloroquine to treat lupus patients for decades.

Joseph told Breitbart News that she treated between 50 and 60 presumptive and confirmed coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine. Her regimen differs somewhat from that of Zelenko in that she combines the drug with Vitamins C and D, along with zinc.

Joseph said that she believes the regimen is most likely helping. She said only one patient was hospitalized, an elderly individual who was already seriously ill by the time hydroxychloroquine was administered. That patient went to the hospital the next day.

Joseph said she has not seen evidence of serious side effects from the prescribed cocktail.

A third doctor, Hillel Isseroff, is an internist in Brooklyn, New York, affiliated with NYU Langone Hospitals and Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital. He has been treating coronavirus patients in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, which has also experienced a massive influx due to the pandemic.

Isseroff told Breitbart News that he is currently analyzing data from the more than 225 coronavirus patients that he treated using hydroxychloroquine. His overall assessment is that he feels the medication might be effective if it is started early, from onset of the symptoms.

Isseroff had been prescribing hydroxychloroquine along with Azithromycin 250mg tablets in select coronavirus patients who were considered high risk. He has also been suggesting zinc early in the illness.