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Donald Trump suddenly announced Monday that he’s been taking the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventative for the novel coronavirus.
Trump has been cheerleading the use of the drug, which is intended to combat malaria and other disease, for use on COVID-19 patients for a couple of months now, repeatedly saying, “What do you have to lose?”
Reporters immediately began asking Trump about his use of hydroxychloroquine.
“Because I think it’s good, I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right, I’m not going to get hurt by it. It’s been around for 40 years, for malaria, for lupus, for other things,” Trump said. “I take it. Frontline workers take it. Lot of doctors take it — excuse me. A lot of doctors take it. I take it. I hope to not be able to take it soon because, you know, I hope they come up with some answer, but I think people should be allowed to.”
Trump’s own Food and Drug Administration, however, has issued warnings that hydroxychloroquine should not be taken for COVID-19 outside of hospital and clinical trial settings, noting serious potential side effects for one’s heart.
Reporters worked out the timeline of when Trump said that he began taking the drug, and it matches roughly with the first reported cases of COVID-19 inside the West Wing of the White House, including a Trump valet.
Fox News political hosts, predictably, praised Trump, with Greg Gutfield calling him the “most transparent president ever” for saying that he was taking hydroxychloroquine.
Elsewhere on Fox News, however, medical professionals were warning viewers about the use of hydroxychloroquine.
“There’s only really two things people have to know in the United States about that drug. Number One, it’s not proven to work, and most importantly, you don’t take that drug without being under doctor supervision, period,” said Dr Scott Atlas, senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center. “There is no reason to listen to people really who have no medical knowledge whatsoever pontificate about if it’s useful or not. Just listen to your doctor.”
The fact that it’s the president of the United States taking this unproven–and potentially dangerous–medication raises additional questions and reasons for public debate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she opposes Trump taking hydroxychloroquine.
“As far as the president is concerned, 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 in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese, they say. So I think it’s not a good idea,” she said.
Pelosi is second in line for the presidency, right after Vice President Mike Pence, if something were to happen and Trump could no longer carry on as president.
“Okay. Again, I need to say this. I hope that the president is okay, that it works for him, that he stays here, that he lives a very long and prosperous life. Most everyone does. But if you look at the evidence of what it shows, that it’s not good for a lot of people that they have tested,” said CNN host Don Lemon. “So I’m just messing with you when there are deadly consequences to taking this drug outside, as the experts have said, clinical trials and a hospital? What kind of leadership is that?”
Lemon’s co-host, Chris Cuomo, raised a whole other set of questions, including whether Trump’s even telling the truth about taking the drug.
“How is somebody being positive/negative right or wrong? It’s only wrong if you don’t like what it represents. So why does he bring up this Hydroxychloroquine? I don’t know if he’s even taking it,” Cuomo said. “He’s got a letter from his doctor saying that’s why he prescribed it. By the way, doesn’t mean he’s taking it. Why would he take it? It’s a fight that he can win and the media will take on and his opponents may take on, and it’s all a beautiful distraction.”
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