During Sunday’s coronavirus press briefing at the White House, President Donald Trump touted the drug hydroxychloroquine, reports The Hill. Used to treat malaria, hydroxychloroquine has not yet been deemed effective to treat COVID-19, but that did not stop the commander in chief from suggesting that Americans take it en masse.
“What do you have to lose?” Trump asked. “I’m not looking at it one way or another. But we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early,” he said, noting that — although not an expert — he nevertheless believes the drug has potential to be the answer to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What do I know? I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.”
Trump has previously touted hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat lupus, ordering the federal government to stockpile 29 million pills of the drug. Even those without coronavirus symptoms, according to Trump, should take the drug. As The Hill put it, Trump’s Sunday remarks “marked the furthest he has veered into playing armchair doctor.”
“I want people to live, and I’m seeing people dying. And you know the expression when that’s happening. You should do it,” the president said, suggesting that there is no time to wait for testing and clinical trials and that it would be a good idea to promote the drug as treatment for coronavirus.
“What really do we have to lose?” he asked.
The administration appears to be moving forward with promoting hydroxychloroquine, with the dug being distributed to pharmacies and hospitals in areas experiencing coronavirus outbreaks. During the press conference, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the government is working with the state of Michigan to make the drug available.
The White House is divided when it comes to hydroxychloroquine. According to reports, Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently clashed over the promotion of the drug. According to Fauci, the data is “at best suggestive.”
"I answered this 15 times. You don't have to answer." — Trump prevents Dr Fauci from answering a question about hydroxychloroquine pic.twitter.com/8R1K1hDsaX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 6, 2020
Fauci is, apparently, not nearly as optimistic as the president, and not just when it comes to hydroxychloroquine. In an interview with CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on Sunday, the expert said that there is a “very good chance” the coronavirus becomes seasonal, which means it could keep coming back in cycles, much like the ordinary flu.
According to Fauci, the government needs to be prepared to contain future outbreaks. Presently, he suggested, the government does not have the virus under control.