Trump’s top expert says anti-malarial drug he’s touted ‘doesn’t work’ on COVID-19

America’s leading infectious diseases expert has said is it now “quite evident” that an anti-malarial drug touted by Donald Trump has no impact on coronavirus.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this was down to negative data produced during research into the drug, known as hydroxychloroquine.

The doctor – a leading figure in Mr Trump’s coronavirus taskforce – told CNN that while he wasn’t sure the treatment should be banned, “the scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy” against COVID-19.

Donald Trump has admitted to taking the controversial drug for over a week, despite concerns over dangerous side effects

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Hydroxychloroquine is usually taken by those with lupus and arthritis, but has made headlines more recently as a possible treatment option for coronavirus.

Mr Trump has said he has been taking the drug as a preventative measure.

While its impact on coronavirus has not been proven, hydroxychloroquine is set to undergo a global trial involving health workers in the UK to look further into its effects.

Concerns have already been raised over serious side-effects, including high death rates and irregular heartbeats as reported in a recent study in The Lancet.

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Increased negative research on hydroxychloroquine has led a number of countries to limit its usage.

Doctors in France are no longer able to dispense it in hospitals, while Italy and Belgium have both made moves to restrict its usage to clinical trials.

The World Health Organisation has also halted a trial of the drug due to ongoing safety concerns.

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Dr Fauci has said cardiovascular problems could be among the possible negative effects of the drug.

He told CNN there was a “likelihood under certain circumstances, that might be rare […], of adverse events”.

“Particularly in regard to cardiovascular and the arrhythmias that may be associated with it,” he added.

Dr Fauci says the data shows the drug lacks effect on the virus
Image:Dr Fauci has cast further doubt on the drug

But these warnings have not swayed the US president, who has said hydroxychloroquine had “gotten a bad reputation only because I’m promoting it”.

He said he had requested the treatment, which US experts say should not be taken outside a hospital setting, from his White House physician.

Mr Trump claimed a recent study showing negative side effects was “false” and an “enemy statement”.

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email

Mark Gibson

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

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