Aspirin Poisoning During Spanish Influenza of 1918 and Hydroxychloroquine for Coronavirus in 2020?
Just a few days ago the White House agreed to boost the supply of hydroxychloroquine to areas heavily effected by coronavirus. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was interrupted by Trump during a news conference when he was asked by a reporter about the hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in treating coronavirus patients.
We still are not sure about the efficacy of this drug as many researchers and health experts have called these small studies as not statistically significant enough to be considered scientific.
Well, in a shockingly similar turn of events during the Spanish influenza in 1918, Aspirin was touted and recommended as an effective treatment against the influenza. This happened when the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army and the Journal of the American Medical Association both recommended very large doses of 8 to 31 grams of aspirin per day as part of the treatment against influenza.
But in 2009, a paper published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, proposed that aspirin poisoning contributed substantially to the fatalities during the Spanish influenza. The author based her results on the reported symptoms in those dying from the influenza, as reported in the post mortem reports still available, and also the timing of the big “death spike” in October 1918. These levels will produce hyperventilation in 33% of patients, as well as lung edema in 3% of patients.
The author, Karen M. Starko, also observed that many early deaths showed “wet”, sometimes hemorrhagic lungs, whereas late deaths showed bacterial pneumonia. She suggests that the wave of aspirin poisonings was due to a “perfect storm” of events: Bayer’s patent on aspirin expired, so many companies rushed in to make a profit and greatly increased the supply which coincided with the Spanish flu.
Well, I am no fan of conspiracy theories but we as humanity have to be extremely cautious, prepared and learn lessons from relevant and important events in our shared history. Neverthelsess, medical and public health experts are best suited to discuss the potential of Hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus.