President Donald Trump said Monday 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 and has been the subject of some disappointing tests.
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 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, including heart issues, 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 it’s good," Trump said. "I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”
President Trump's physician on Monday confirmed that the president is now taking the HCQ despite never having tested positive for COVID-19. He said he and Trump concluded "the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks," The Hill reported.
In a brief letter released by the White House after Trump announced he was taking the medication, presidential physician Sean Conley wrote that he discussed the pros and cons of HCQ with his patient after a personal valet of Trump's tested positive.
Said the letter: "In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continue to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future."
Reacting to Trump's announcement, one commentator, Neil Cavuto at Fox News, said he was shocked; one recent study, he noted, was done by the Department of Veterans Affairs and linked the drug to higher death rates for VA patients hospitalized with the disease.
He urged people to "be very, very careful" in deciding on their own individualized courses of treatment for the coronavirus.
Business mogul Mark Cuban, interviewed by Fox's Martha MacCallum, said he, too, was puzzled.
“You don’t want to be making medical decisions, whether you’re the president or anybody else, with the line ‘What have you got to lose?'” said Cuban, who's been a Trump critic, according to the news website Mediaite.
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