Tuesday May 19, 2020
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has surprised the world on Monday by announcing he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that US government experts have stated is not suitable for fighting the novel coronavirus.
Trump, noting that he has tested negative for the virus and shows no symptoms, said he'd been taking the drug as a preventative measure for about a week and a half.
"I take a pill every day," he said, adding that he combines this with zinc.
Asked why, he said: "Because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories."
Trump has shown interest for weeks in promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine, even if some doctors think it does not work for coronavirus patients and US government regulators warn it has "not been shown to be safe."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it's "not a good idea" for Trump to be taking the drug as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
"I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, which is morbidly obese, they say," Pelosi said during an appearance on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
"So, I think that it´s not a good idea," she added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Trump´s decision to take the drug "reckless."
"It gives people false hope, has people avoid real medical attention, and can actually cause them trouble. It is just dangerous what he did," Schumer said on MSNBC.
Trump's latest remarks came out of the blue, immediately grabbing headlines on a day when US deaths from COVID-19 topped 90,000 people — almost a third of the total world toll.
"You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers, before you catch it. The front-line workers — many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it," he let slip to reporters attending a White House meeting devoted to the struggling restaurant industry.
"I'm taking it, hydroxychloroquine, right now, yeah. A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it," he said.
Trump has often played down the dangers of coronavirus, including last week when he said it threatened only a small number of people. He also pointedly refuses to wear a mask, despite federal recommendations to do so and the fact that most of his staff have taken to covering their faces in public.
A personal valet to Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus, as has Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence´s press secretary.