Fact sheet

Fact Check: Clive Palmer says hydroxychloroquine contributed to Australia's low COVID-19 death rate. Is he correct?

COVID-19 Infectious diseases Pandemics Disease management Pharmaceuticals Australia

Businessman and former federal MP Clive Palmer made headlines when he donated nearly 33 million doses of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to help fight the novel coronavirus in Australia.

He credited the drug with Australia's low death rate, claiming the mortality rate for the Covid-19 had flattened after Health Minister Greg Hunt announced hydroxychloroquine would be made available for hospital patients with the disease.

Mr Palmer repeated the claim several times on television, radio and in full-page newspaper advertisements.

However, experts said there was no link between hydroxychloroquine and Australia's low mortality rate. They said the death curve had flattened simply because confirmed cases had done the same.

Doctors could already prescribe hydroxychloroquine to Australian hospital patients. But the national medicines regulator has "strongly discouraged" doing so unless the hospital patient is part of a clinical trial or severely ill.

Experts said the drug's effectiveness against Covid-19 would not be known until the results of large-scale randomised control trials were published.

Verdict: Mr Palmer’s claim is baseless.

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