President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial medication that some have suggested, anecdotally but without scientific evidence, can help in treating those diagnosed with coronavirus.
Trump told reporters at the White House he’s been on the drug for a number of days, and was doing so as a preventative measure, as he also explained he had tested negative for COVID-19.
“I’m taking it for about a week and a half now and I’m still here, I’m still here,” the president said.
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When asked for evidence he had that taking the drug was a good idea, Trump wasn’t very scientific in his response, and did not reveal specific names or titles of those that said it was fine, stating that he had received “a lot of positive calls about it.”
Trump has often peddled the drug as one that should be used by those who have deep concerns about the virus, at one point in April telling Americans, “What do you have to lose?” and urging them to “take it.”
In fact, a number of scientific studies and medical professionals have said there’s a lot one can lose from taking the antimalarial drug — including one’s own life. Hydroxychloroquine, like most other medications, comes with a number of risks, including the chance that it can negatively affect a person’s vision (sometimes permanently) as well as increasing the possibility of heart disease in patients, sometimes resulting in fatal outcomes.
It’s questionable, too, whether the drug does any good for COVID-19 patients at all. One study examining its effects on hundreds of patients in VA hospitals around the country who had the disease found that fatality rates were actually higher for those using hydroxychloroquine than they were for those who were treated with standard care without the drug.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, responding to news about Trump’s use of hydroxychloroquine during an interview on CNN with host Anderson Cooper on Monday evening, made it clear that she did not approve of the president using the drug.
“He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say, weight group,” Pelosi said, adding that she viewed the president as being “morbidly obese.”
Trump weighed in at 243 pounds in 2019, which, at his height of 6’3″, would categorize him as “obese” according to the Body Mass Index.
Neil Cavuto of Fox News on his program on Monday following the president’s revelation also decried the decision by Trump, reminding viewers that taking hydroxychloroquine without medical evidence that it could help was not advised.
“If you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus, or in a worst-case scenario you are dealing with the virus and you are in this vulnerable population, it will kill you. I cannot stress that enough. This will kill you,” Cavuto said.
Trump responded to Cavuto’s statements by unleashing a flurry of retweets from other Twitter users deriding the Fox News personality, some calling him “foolish & gullible,” “an asshole,” and “an idiot”.
Trump himself sent out a tweet warning Fox News that it was close to losing him as a dedicated viewer if they continued broadcasting the content that was critical of him.
“You have more anti-Trump people, by far, than ever before. Looking for a new outlet!” Trump wrote in his tweet.