LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): All right, joining me now is Dr. William Grace, an oncologist at Lenox Hill hospital in New York City. Doctor, what's the best way to keep people — keep infected people away from those with compromised immune systems? Is it the mass shutdown that we're seeing or is it a focus on those compromised populations?
DR. WILLIAM GRACE (ONCOLOGIST): Well, you know — we've had the understanding that the old people seem to have the compromised immune systems and I think it's just the opposite. It's a paradigm change. They have the more mature immune systems even though their bodies may be weak and their immune systems are actually quite strong and it's the strength of that immunity that causes the damage to the lungs and the deaths in these cases.
Hence the reason why hydroxychloroquine, an immunosuppressive agent, is beneficial by two mechanisms: suppressing the immune response and number two, acting to suppress the replication of the virus. That's why the anti- inflammatory drugs you just mentioned before I came on is working in China because it's cutting down what we call the cytokine storm, the inflammatory storm that the virus causes in a percentage of people, and those are the people who go on to die. So that's why you see that it's the immune system that's causing most of the deaths.
INGRAHAM: Yeah, so again, it's counterintuitive, Dr. Grace, from what a lot of people thought, including myself you know. Full disclosure. I was confused until one of these doctors explained this to me today about Actemra and also the hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin.
So an older person's response is powerful to a foreign agent coming into their body and this is a new foreign agent coming into the body so their immune response goes crazy, so you need to drop that down in order to prevent the damage? Is that correct?
GRACE: Yes. That's correct and in addition, hydroxychloroquine also inhibits viral replication.
INGRAHAM: Dr. Grace, there are a lot of skeptics and I understand it's great to be skeptical, but there are a lot of skeptics out there about this drug that is currently in use in the United States. CNN in particular. Watch.
All right, they're accusing Trump — sorry — of peddling false hope with chloroquine. For the past two days, Trump has said he was dispensing a game-changer breakthrough on treatments. It's holding out promise of hope and optimism to shift attention from the reality of alarming rises in infections, a building economic crisis, shortage of ventilators, the federal government's botched coronavirus testing rollout, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Is it just false hope or do we have at least, you know, examples in our country right now of this working including in your hospital?
GRACE: Well, Laura, you saw the curves that you just put on showing the different viral free curves of those who had standard therapy, those who had hydroxychloroquine, and those who had the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, where all those who got the combination were basically virus free by day five. And the results of those tests that show that hydroxychloroquine alone and the synergism between hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, the results of that testing, there was only one chance in 10,000 that that could have happened by chance alone.
That's highly significant data. You know, we look at data today and we accept one chance in 20 of having it by chance alone as being statistically significant. One chance in 10,000 is huge, and the president is exactly right. This is going to help a lot of people.
By the way, the tension you show of — you saw between Anthony Fauci and the president today, both can have their cake and eat it too because you can take the seriously ill people and treat them off-label with the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, and then you can take those people who are not so seriously ill and put them on whatever randomized trial you want. And as many limbs as you want because there'll be plenty of patients out there that will be sick and not so serious than they're in danger of dying.
INGRAHAM: Well and some of the researchers are saying it's a — I mean, it can be prescribed widely as a prophylactic, a preventative against getting the virus at all. So the only problem I have is when Fauci says, oh, it's just anecdotal and it's kind of a blow-off. I mean, I get it. They want a 2,000-person controlled, randomized trial, I understand that, but this is an emergency and it's working for a lot of people.
GRACE: Well, when this whole problem with COVID-19 is over, we'll talk about the same problems exist in cancer where you have breakthrough therapies identified by people's, you know, very outstanding people and it's called anecdotal and it's just forgotten and buried. But let's get rid of COVID-19 first, and I think the president is exactly right on this and so is Dr. Fauci. We can have our cake and we can eat it too.