Media coverage of a promising Covid-19 treatment has flipped from supportive to negative, a US health official has revealed, suggesting the president’s praise of the treatment might relate to it falling out of favor.

The Washington Post’s outlook on using blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients to treat the sick has flipped from optimistic to skeptical following a Sunday announcement from US President Donald Trump that the treatment has received emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The switch in coverage was noted by the spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.

Wait @washingtonpost what happened here?

Despite promising preliminary results, including data from a large Mayo Clinic study suggesting plasma treatments can significantly reduce mortality, the newspaper appears to have done a 180 on what had been very positive coverage of the treatment, publishing a story on Monday headlined “Scientists express doubts about coronavirus treatment touted as breakthrough by Trump.

Misgivings about the way the president and the FDA had framed the encouraging data on plasma treatment – a claim it reduced deaths by 35 percent was “grossly misrepresented,” some scientists said – got top billing, while the study’s generally encouraging results were buried deep in the text.

Not included in the article were any mentions of the outlet’s own previous pieces touting the plasma treatment as a “breakthrough.” HHS spokesman Michael Caputo dug up four previous headlines from March to August suggesting the plasma treatment was safe and showed promise in treating Covid-19.

The Washington Post was far from the only outlet to take up a skeptical view following the FDA’s emergency approval of blood plasma treatment. “The only hitch: it might not work,” snarked Barron’s on Monday, while the New York Times focused on the questionable 35-percent number to the near exclusion of the generally positive clinical results.

The about-face regarding blood plasma treatment following Trump’s support for the procedure echoes the media pile-on against hydroxychloroquine, the off-patent malaria drug some studies have found to be effective against Covid-19. While even US pandemic czar Anthony Fauci had previously touted the medication’s ability to treat coronaviruses, Trump’s support of the ultra-cheap drug signed its death warrant in the eyes of the media establishment, which has spent the last several months demonizing it. In June, the FDA revoked an emergency authorization allowing hydroxychloroquine and its chemical cousin chloroquine to be used in treating Covid-19, citing serious side effects.

However, doctors who support the use of the drugs have argued that studies yielding negative results either used too much of the drug or used it on late-stage patients, who are known not to respond. Several high-profile studies appearing to show negative results from hydroxychloroquine treatment were exposed as fraudulent.

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