Trump sticks by hydroxychloroquine, claims it works in early stages of COVID 19 infection
Donald Trump issued a strong defence of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, hours after social media companies moved to take down videos promoting its use as potentially harmful misinformation.
US President Donald Trump has again defended the use of hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, saying many frontline medical workers agree with him that the anti-malaria drug works in the early stages of COVID-19 infection, despite mounting evidence that it is ineffective in treating the disease. With this, he has contradicted his own public health officials.
In May, Trump disclosed that he was taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine to stay away from coronavirus after consulting the White House doctor.
"I happen to believe in it (hydroxychloroquine). I would take it. As you know, I took it for a 14-day period, and I'm here. I happen to think it works in the early stages. I think frontline medical people believe that too -- some, many," Trump told reporters at a White House news conference on Tuesday.
"But the one thing we know: It's been out for a long time, that particular formula, and that's essentially, what it is, the pill. And it's been for malaria, lupus, and other things. It's safe. It doesn't cause problems. I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem, felt no different. Didn't feel good, bad, or indifferent. I tested, as you know. It didn't hurt me, and it's not going to hopefully hurt anybody," he said.
The President and his son Donald Trump Jr were among social media users who shared video late on Monday of a group called America's Frontline Doctors advocating hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment.
Facebook and Twitter removed the content, flagging it as misinformation, but not before more than 17 million people had seen one of the clips. Twitter also banned the US President's eldest son from tweeting for 12 hours as a penalty for sharing the clip.
The video in question showed doctors speaking outside the US Supreme Court at an event organised by Tea Party Patriots Action, a group that is not required to disclose its donors and has helped fund a pro-Trump political action committee.
In the video, Dr Stella Immanuel, a physician from Houston, says she has successfully treated 350 coronavirus patients "and counting" with hydroxychloroquine. The President said on Tuesday: "I think they're very respected doctors. There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it."
America's Frontline Doctors' founder Simone Gold accused social media companies of censorship for removing the hydroxychloroquine video. "Treatment options for COVID-19 should be debated, and spoken about among our colleagues in the medical field," she tweeted. "They should never, however, be censored and silenced."
After our #WhiteCoatSummit received 15M views and was shared by the President, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube arbitrarily censored and deleted the live-stream of our event.— Dr. Simone Gold (@drsimonegold) July 28, 2020
Why are they censoring Physicians from speaking about COVID-19 and Hydroxychloroquine? pic.twitter.com/kJLuMRNtsl
There are always opposing views in medicine.— Dr. Simone Gold (@drsimonegold) July 28, 2020
Treatment options for COVID-19 should be debated, and spoken about among our colleagues in the medical field.
They should never, however, be censored and silenced.
But there is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine can fight the virus, and regulators warn it may cause heart problems.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautioned against the use of the drug for treatment of the coronavirus, following reports of "serious heart rhythm problems" and other health issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) says "there is currently no proof" that it is effective as a treatment or prevents COVID-19.
"Many doctors think hydroxychloroquine is extremely successful: the hydroxychloroquine coupled with the zinc and perhaps the azithromycin.. But many doctors think it's extremely good, and some people don't. I think it's become very political," Trump said referring to the controversy surrounding the malaria drug.
"We know from that standpoint - because it's been so many years, from a safety standpoint, it's safe. I happen to think, based on what I've read - I've read a lot about hydroxy. I happen to think that it has an impact, especially in the early years. There were some very good tests at Ford, and the doctor from Yale came up with a very, very strong testament to it," he said.
There are no FDA-approved drugs for the coronavirus. The pandemic has so far infected more than 16 million people worldwide and killed at least 655,300, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 150,000 Americans have died because of coronavirus and over 4.4 million have tested positive.
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 FDA to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
The drug generated excitement earlier in the year after small studies suggested it could be beneficial, especially when combined with antibiotic azithromycin.
Trump promoted it as a potential treatment for the virus and said he used it as a preventive measure against the disease. However, several larger studies showed the drug was not helpful and caused heart issues in some patients.