2020-05-18 22:46:32 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump said Monday that he is taking a malaria
drug to protect against the new coronavirus, despite warnings from his own
government that it should only be administered for COVID-19 in a hospital or
research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.
Trump told reporters he has been taking the drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc
supplement daily for about a week and a half now. Trump spent weeks pushing
the drug as a potential cure or prophylaxis for COVID-19 against the cautionary
advice of many of his administration's top medical professionals. The drug has
the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not
been shown to combat the new coronavirus.
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 its good," Trump said. "Ive heard a lot
of good stories.
The Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals last month that the
drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of hospital or research
settings, due to sometimes fatal side effects. Regulators issued the alert for
the drug, which can also be used to treat lupus and arthritis, after receiving
reports of heart-rhythm problems, including deaths, from poison control centers
and other health providers.
Trump dismissed reports of side effects, saying, All I can tell you is, so far
I seem to be OK.
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.
Trump last underwent an interim checkup in a November visit to Walter Reed
National Military Medical Center that was not noted on his public schedule. His
last complete physical took place in February 2019.
Trump has repeatedly pushed the use of the drug with or without the antibiotic
azithromycin, but no large, rigorous studies have found them safe or effective
for preventing or treating COVID-19.