During a roundtable on Monday, President Trump told reporters that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine to avoid contracting coronavirus.
Toward the end of the discussion with restaurant executives and other members of the industry, the president casually dropped that he’s been taking the drug (which is used to treat malaria, lupus, and arthritis) for “about a week and a half.”
“I’m still here,” he continued.
When pressed on whether there was evidence that taking the drug has a preventative effect, Trump said he’s received “a lot of positive calls about it.”
He also dismissed recent studies that concluded that hydroxychloroquine wasn’t an effective COVID-19 treatment.
One, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, studied 1,438 COVID-19 patients across 25 New York hospitals. That study concluded that among hospitalized patients, using the drug “was not significantly associated with differences in in-hospital mortality.” Another observational study published by the Columbia University Irving Medical Center followed 1,376 coronavirus patients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and similarly concluded that “the risk of intubation or death was not significantly higher or lower” among those who received the treatment than those who did not.
Trump claimed that the patients who were treated using hydroxychloroquine didn’t experience better results — or any, for that matter — were already in “extraordinarily bad condition.”
Whether he’s actually taking the drug or just said he was to get a rise out of reporters remains to be seen. Trump and other right-wing pundits have been pushing hydroxychloroquine use for weeks, and desperate Americans have been buying up the country’s supply. Those who do need the drug to treat autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are struggling to access it.
The excitement about the reveal: “I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this. When I announced this. Yeah, I’ve taken it for 1 and a half weeks now. And I’m still here. I’m still here,” Trump said.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) May 18, 2020
Twitter users, meanwhile, can’t believe that the leader of the free world is pushing a drug with mounting scientific evidence against its use.
just want to reassure my fellow Americans by telling them I’m on drugs, but not because I need them
— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) May 18, 2020
Taking a pill that gives people heart attacks to own the libs.
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) May 18, 2020
Taking the drug can cause dizziness, nausea, hair loss, and ringing in the ears. More serious side effects include uncontrolled movement, loss of balance, and, in severe cases, seizures. Most doctors have concluded that it’s not worth taking it until more controlled clinical trials that can prove its effectiveness.
“He shouldn’t be taking it,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta says on CNN after POTUS announced he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, adding there’s no evidence it treats or prevents coronavirus and can cause side effects.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 18, 2020
Until then, keep social distancing and washing your hands.