NEW YORK (VINnews) – A Washington Post report revealed that a preliminary inquiry had been opened by a federal prosecutor into whether a New York doctor who won White House attention by claiming he could treat the coronavirus broke the law by falsely claiming that a hospital study of drugs he had promoted had won FDA approval.
The prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, came upon his investigation accidentally after he was mistakenly e-mailed the information by Jerome Corsi, a conservative commentator who figured in the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. After a quick check, Zelinsky revealed that the doctor, Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, had wrongly claimed that the Food and Drug Administration had backed a study of a drug cocktail that he asserts is effective in treating Covid-19.
Zelinsky then demanded that Corsi transfer to him all of his communications with the doctor. Corsi complied and spoke about the investigation in his podcast Thursday, stating that “All these emails this morning and all my text messages, we have copied and sent to Zelinksy. Everything Zelinksy wants to see, we are voluntarily handing over to him as quickly as we can. … If he wants my computers, he can have them; my cell phones, he can have them.”
Corsi told CNN on Friday he was certainly surprised when he realized he had emailed Zelinsky. He reiterated that he has cooperated with Zelinsky’s requests.
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Corsi said.
Zelenko has drawn attention from the Trump administration for experimenting with hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus. Zelenko claimed that using the drug with a cocktail including the antibiotic azithromycin and zinc could effectively combat the virus. He said that he had successfully treated numerous coronavirus patients with 100 percent success using the cocktail of drugs and added that he saw the symptom of shortness of breath resolved within four to six hours after treatment.
President Donald Trump has touted the use of the drug as a potential treatment. But the FDA has said the drug has not been shown to be “safe and effective” for treating the illness, and its usage for coronavirus patients has risks of severe complications, even death, the FDA has said recently.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has said it is continuing to use the anti-malarial drug to treat coronavirus cases in a manner “consistent with current FDA guidance.” The FDA said on April 24 that hydroxychloroquine and the related medication chloroquine should be used for coronavirus only in clinical trials and for treating certain hospitalized patients.
In a New York Times interview on Friday, Dr. Zelenko said that he was guilty of nothing more than sloppy wording.
“I’m a clinician, not a researcher,” he said. “I don’t understand fully the language of clinical research.”
He said the misunderstanding stemmed from a lecture he gave last month to a group of physicians over the videoconferencing app Zoom, which Mr. Corsi attended. During the lecture, Dr. Zelenko claimed that the clinical trial he was helping organize, sponsored by St. Francis Hospital in New York, had been approved by the F.D.A. In fact, only the hospital’s internal review board had approved it.
Dr. Zelenko said he had the impression that his study had the government’s seal of approval because he had spoken with Stephen M. Hahn, the F.D.A.’s commissioner, who discussed his treatment with him and helped him locate medicine for the trial, he said.
“In my mind, that led me to think it was F.D.A.-approved,” Dr. Zelenko said. “In reality, it was a mistake.”