Donald Trump's taking hydroxychloroquine based on 'good stories' he has heard

Updated: May 20, 2020, 08:33 IST | Agencies | Washington

Says he's been taking the drug daily for about two weeks now; ignores FDA's warnings of its potential fatal side effects

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump said on Monday that he is taking an anti-malaria drug to protect against the new Coronavirus, despite warnings from his own government that it should only be administered for COVID-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.

Trump told reporters he has been taking the drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement daily "for about a week and a half now." He spent weeks pushing the drug as a potential cure or prophylaxis for COVID-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration's top medical professionals.

'I think it's good'
The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the virus. 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."

'Benefit outweighs risks'
The White House physician Dr Sean Conley said in a statement that after "numerous discussions" with Trump about the evidence for and against using hydroxychloroquine, "we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks."

The Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals last month that the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of hospital or research settings, due to sometimes fatal side effects.

Deaths linked
FDA issued the alert after receiving reports of heart problems, including deaths, from poison control centres and other health providers. Trump dismissed reports of side effects, saying, "... So far I seem to be OK."

WHO bows to calls for probe into its COVID-19 response

The World Health Organisation bowed to calls on Monday from most of its member states to launch an independent probe into how it managed the international response to COVID-19. The "comprehensive evaluation," sought by a coalition of African, European and other countries, is intended to review "lessons learned" from WHO's coordination of the global response to COVID-19, but would stop short of looking into contentious issues such as the origins of the new coronavirus. US President Donald Trump has claimed he has proof suggesting the virus originated in a lab in China.

Trump threatens to quit UN body

In an ultimatum to the WHO, Trump has said he would "reconsider" US's membership of the WHO and threatened to "permanently freeze" the funding to it if it failed to demonstrate its "independence" from China in the next 30 days. Trump on Monday faulted WHO for having done "a very sad job". "They were wrong so much, always on the side of China," he said.

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