A strong advocate of hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure for COVID-19, US President Donald Trump has said he has been taking the anti-malarial drug for more than a week. Trump's statement started a chain reaction from experts warning people against the side-effects of the drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration has also issued repeated warnings against the use of the antimalarial drug for treating coronavirus. "Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. Both can cause abnormal heart rhythms and a dangerously rapid heart rate," it said in a statement.
Trump Claims Hydroxychloroquine is Not Hurting Him
Two weeks ago, one of Trump's support staff in the White House tested positive for the virus. Addressing a meeting of restaurant executives on Monday, Trump stated that he started taking Hydroxychloroquine after consulting the White House doctor.
"You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers before you catch it. The frontline workers — many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it — hydroxychloroquine," Trump said.
"A lot of good things have come out on the hydroxy. I'm taking hydroxychloroquine. I've been taking it. I hope to not be able to take it soon. But I think people should be allowed to. A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it. I've heard a lot of good stories. And if it is not good, I will tell you, right. I'm not going to get hurt by it. It has been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things," he said.
Experts Urge People to Refrain From Hydroxychloroquine
Calling Trump 'morbidly obese', House Speaker Nancy Pelosi advised the US president against the use of the drug to prevent COVID-19. Speaking to CNN, Pelosi said: "He's our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists. Especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, what is morbidly obese, they say. So, I think that it's not a good idea."
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at the Vanderbilt Medical Center, told The Wall Street Journal: "I certainly would not recommend that people in the U.S. ask their physicians to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of Covid. Its use is entirely speculative."
In a tweet, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen wrote: "NO evidence for hydrochloroquine being effective in treatment of #covid19 or prophylaxis to prevent the disease. This medication has serious side effects. I am very concerned about @realDonaldTrump continuing to model behavior that could harm many Americans."
Advising his followers to refrain from Trump's claim, Dr. Rob Davidson, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, tweeted: "There is no evidence of benefit and there is evidence of harm. Trump is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. Let's not add to that number."
Casting doubts over the authenticity of Trump's claims, Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst for NBC and MSNBC, tweeted: "If Trump has really been taking hydroxychloroquine for the past 'week-and-a-half' as he just blurted [out] at a press conference, do we really think he would have been able to keep his mouth shut about it?"