The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is responsible for certifying medical products in Australia, has warned misusing the hydroxychloroquine in an attempt to fight COVID-19 can have severe side effects. It said a large scale trial by the World Health Organisation found the drug had little or no effect on how many hospitalised patients with COVID-19 died.
But Dr Laming said people in general had a right to challenge experts.
“There’s a very good reason for an opposition or for any MP or any citizen to stand up against any government if they feel the science is being ignored,” said Dr Laming, who worked as a GP and in health policy before entering politics.
Dr Laming’s argument drew a weary rebuke from Lucy Morgan, a respiratory physician working with coronavirus patients.
“It was a great source of pride for Australians in the early part of this pandemic that we had such a national united, non-partisan approach to dealing with the pandemic,” Dr Morgan said.
“I think it’s one of the sad things about this second phase of this pandemic that we are starting to bicker about tweets between us and become partisan.”
The medical members of the panel, which included the former federal member for Wentworth in Sydney’s east, Kerryn Phelps, were united in urging Australians to wear masks even if they were not living in a coronavirus hotspot.
“There’s been a non-sensical debate for months now which has been so frustrating because it has not been evidence-based about wearing masks,” said Dr Phelps, who works as a GP and sits on the City of Sydney council.
“It is one of the single most responsible things that we can do as members of the community to protect each other.”