Donald Trump says he has been taking hydroxychloroquine to combat coronavirus, despite health warnings
US President Donald Trump has said that he is taking a malaria drug to lessen symptoms should he get the new coronavirus, even though the drug is unproven for fighting COVID-19.
- The US President has touted the use of hydroxychloroquine for weeks despite a lack of evidence of its efficacy
- Studies from the US, France and China have shown hydroxychloroquine is not effective for treating COVID-19
- Mr Trump also said he would soon issue a statement on the US contribution to the World Health Organization
Mr Trump told reporters he has been taking the drug hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily “for about a week and a half now.”
Mr Trump has continued to promote hydroxychloroquine despite little evidence of its efficacy for prevention or treatment of COVID-19, and warnings from his administration’s top medical professionals.
Mr Trump said his doctor did not recommend the drug to him, but he requested it from the White House physician.
“I started taking it, because I think it’s good,” Mr Trump said. “I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”
“What do you have to lose?”
The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the new coronavirus.
Mr Trump dismissed reports of side effects, saying, “All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK.”
In late April, the US Food and Drug Administration cautioned “against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.”
Two studies published last week in the leading medical journal BMJ last week concluded that hydroxychloroquine should not be used in the treatment of coronavirus.
A study from France found that the drug did not significantly reduce admission to intensive care or deaths among patients with severe cases.
A randomised clinical trial from China, meanwhile, showed patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 who were prescribed hydroxychloroquine did not overcome the virus more quickly than those receiving standard care.
Two earlier large observational studies, each involving around 1,400 patients in New York, recently found no benefit from hydroxychloroquine.
Mr Trump previously suggested that injections of disinfectants or bleach, or the use of ultraviolet light, could be investigated as treatments COVID-19.
He later claimed he was being sarcastic after the comments were widely mocked, leading him to cancel daily White House press briefings.
Health professionals have been encouraging people for some time to wash their hands thoroughly with soap or to use hand sanitiser to help stop the spread of the virus.
At least two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, sparking concerns about the steps taken by the administration to protect the president and sending Vice President Mike Pence and other officials into varying forms of self-isolation.
The White House has since mandated that those in the West Wing wear face coverings and has introduced daily testing for the virus for the President, Vice President and those they come in close contact with.
In the briefing, Mr Trump also said he would issue a statement about the World Health Organization soon and said it had “done a very sad job” in its handling of the coronavirus.
Mr Trump said he had considered reducing it to US$40 million ($61 million), but some felt that was too much. The US currently accounts for around 14 per cent of the agency’s funding, contributing US$400 million ($613 million).
Asked why he had not addressed a virtual ministerial meeting of the WHO earlier in the day, Mr Trump replied: “I chose not to make a statement today. I’ll be giving them a statement, sometime in the near future, but … I think they’ve done a very sad job in the last period of time.”