Trump takes disputed medicine as preventative measure against COVID-19

Donald Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against coronavirus, despite it being unproven as an effective COVID-19 treatment.

The US president revealed he has been taking the malaria drug for the last week and a half in pill form and has had “zero symptoms”.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), earlier said there was no evidence the drug could prevent coronavirus.

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He did say there was some anecdotal evidence it could be an effective therapy to treat COVID-19 patients, although two separate studies published in the medical journal BMJ said patients given the drug did not improve significantly over those who did not.

Asked whether he could provide any evidence hydroxychloroquine has a preventative effect, Mr Trump told reporters: “I get a lot of positive calls about it.”

He continued: “I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it is not good, I will tell you right.

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“I’m not going to get hurt by it. It has been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things.”

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients outside of a hospital setting or clinical trial due to the risk of serious heart rhythm problems.

Mr Trump has backed the drug as a potential coronavirus cure, despite warnings from top medical professionals in his administration.

A Salvadoran Health Ministry worker holds a package of bottles of Hydroxychloroquine pills to be distributed in hospitals in San Salvador on April 21, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak
Image:A health ministry worker in El Salvador holds several packages of hydroxychloroquine pills

The president said he requested the drug from the White House physician and it had not been recommended by his doctor.

Hydroxychloroquine is still being studied by the US and other countries as a potential COVID-19 treatment.

One study of 150 patients with mild to moderate coronavirus in China found patients on the drug did not get better significantly faster than those who did not take it.

What is hydroxychloroquine - the drug Trump is pushing to treat COVID-19?

What is hydroxychloroquine – the drug Trump is pushing to treat COVID-19?

Adverse reactions were also higher in patients who took the drug.

The trial was not placebo controlled, which is considered the gold standard for clinical data.

On Thursday, the National Institutes of Health in the US said it began a study to evaluate the combination of the antibiotic azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine.

The study will assess whether the combination of the drugs can prevent COVID-19 sufferers from being taken to hospital or dying from the virus.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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