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Trump claims he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent contracting COVID-19

Published on 19/05/20 at 10:00am
Photo by Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump told reporters last night that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off COVID-19, despite US health officials warning the drug may be unsafe.

He told reporters: “You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it. The frontline workers many many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it. I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine. Right now, yeah. A couple weeks ago I started taking it. Because I think it’s good, I heard a lot of good stories, I take a pill every day.”

Trump’s physician, Sean P Conley, also released a memo saying that after discussions with the President over the potential risks of using the drug they “concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”

Trump has constantly touted hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as effective COVID-19 treatments despite a lack of evidence. In late March, he tweeted that the drug was one of the “biggest game changers in the history of medicine” and hopefully the FDA would “move fast” to approve the drug.

Trump later said people have “nothing to lose” by taking it. Trump’s praise of the treatment caused a surge in demand for the drug, leaving many people who need it to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus without the therapy.

Trump has faced bipartisan condemnation for his recent comments about taking the drug. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, said the President’s comments were reckless but “it’s even worse than that, his own FDA has said it has bad side effects, whether it affects the rhythm of the heart in many bad ways. For him to say this is reckless, it shows no regard for the public.”

Fox News, usually a staunch Trump ally, came out against the President promoting the drug, with host Neil Cavuto saying: “If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment, it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.”

In response to this criticism, Trump tweeted: “@FoxNews is no longer the same. We miss the great Roger Ailes. You have more anti-Trump people, by far, than ever before. Looking for a new outlet!”

Multiple US organisations have come out against using hydroxychloroquine. The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine summed up that no current study has supported the view that “hydroxychloroquine is effective in the management of even mild COVID-19 disease.”

This was followed by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), on 22 April, releasing treatment guidelines for the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients, saying it should not be used due to “potential toxicities.”

However, the drug is still being investigated by the NIH, who it was launching a clinical trial testing hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.

Conor Kavanagh

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