Or is it just panic science?:
On September 14, 1918, in the midst of the worst pandemic in modern history, an article in the New York Times quoted Dr. Rupert Blue, then surgeon general of the US Public Health Service. Blue reported that doctors in many countries were treating their influenza patients with digitalis and the antimalaria drug quinine. There was no evidence that the two drugs were any more effective than folk remedies being used by patients, including cinnamon, goose grease poultices, and salt stuffed up the nose, but doctors were desperate and willing to try just about anything. They would eventually abandon quinine and digitalis as treatments for flu when studies showed they were not only ineffective but caused serious and sometimes deadly side effects.
Today, just shy of two months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the media are once again flooded with cures, patients such as Michigan State Representative Karen Whitsett are being quoted with claims that hydroxychloroquine “saved my life,” and doctors are prescribing drugs that have not been shown to be effective. Only this time, it’s the twenty-first century, the age of “evidence-based medicine.” Or so it might seem. But instead of no science to back up treatments, we now have bad studies being reported uncritically in the press, and Twitter storms of doctors, journalists, and researchers arguing about the ethics of withholding drugs from dying patients, even though we have no idea if those drugs do more harm than good.Jeanne Lenzer, Shannon Brownlee, “Pandemic Science Out of Control” at Issues in Science and Technology
The problems that Lenzer and Brownlee identify in their screed as wrong science are normal components of a panic in a crisis. What it all really shows is that we aren’t as much smarter than our forebears as we think.