DONALD TRUMP has disclosed that he is taking daily doses of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off the coronavirus, though health officials have warned it may be unsafe.
Speaking at a meeting of restaurant executives on Monday (18), the US president said he began taking the drug after consulting the White House doctor.
“A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it,” he told reporters, asserting that he has zero symptoms of the deadly Covid-19, which has killed over 90,000 Americans in the past three months.
“I have been taking it (hydroxychloroquine) for about a week and a half.”
There is no evidence hydroxychloroquine can fight off coronavirus, though clinical trials are under way. Medical experts and the US Food and Drug Administration have questioned the efficacy of the antimalarial drug and warned of the potentially harmful side effects.
“The White House doctor didn’t recommend. I asked him, what do you think? He said well, if you’d like it. I said yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it,” he said.
“I take a pill every day. At some point, I’ll stop. What I’d like to do is I’d like to have the cure and/or the vaccine, and that will happen, I think, very soon.”
Soon after Trump revealed to the world that he has been taking the medicine, the White House doctor said the president is in good health.
“The president is in very good health and remains symptom-free. He receives regular Covid-19 testing, all negative to date,” said White House physician, Dr Sean P Conley.
“After numerous discussions, he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risk.”
Trump rubbished claims that he was promoting hydroxychloroquine due to business interests.
“I don’t take it because… hey, people said oh maybe he owns the company. No, I don’t own the company You know what, I want the people of this nation to feel good. I don’t want them being sick. And there’s a very good chance that this has an impact, especially early on,” he said.
“I take it (hydroxychloroquine) because I think I hear very good things. Again, you have to go to frontline workers. Many frontline workers take it, and they seem to be doing very well.”
The president said he has zero symptoms of coronavirus.
“No, I haven’t had any symptoms. I test every couple of days they want to test me, you know, for obvious reasons. So every couple of days I get tested, and I’ve shown always negative, right, negative. …. Totally negative, no symptoms, no nothing,” he said.
Hydroxychloroquine sulfate was first synthesised in 1946 and is in a class of medications historically used to treat and prevent malaria.
It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
The drug is not FDA-approved for the treatment of Covid-19 but it has been identified as a possible treatment for the infection and the US government has requested its immediate availability.