Donald Trump Defends Hydroxychloroquine Use: ‘I Think It Gives You An Additional Level Of Safety’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House May 18, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Doug Mills / Getty Images

Amid criticism for the revelation that he is taking hydroxychloroquine as an unproven treatment to protect himself from coronavirus, President Donald Trump defended his decision on Tuesday after a Senate GOP lunch, The Hill reported.

“I think it gives you an additional level of safety,” he told reporters. “But you can ask many doctors who are in favor of it. Many front-line workers won’t go there unless they have the hydroxy.”

Nevertheless, Trump, who received the medication with the approval of his doctor, Sean Conley, noted that the decision was made on an individual basis.

“This is an individual decision to make,” he said. “But it’s had a great reputation and if it was somebody else other than me people would say, ‘Gee isn’t that smart.'”

According to Conley, the risks of taking hydroxychloroquine are less than the risk Trump faces from contracting coronavirus. Possible side effects of the drug include heart failure, liver disease, mood swings, and suicidal thoughts. Jonathan Reiner, who was former Vice President Dick Cheney’s cardiologist, believes that the president faces a 15 to 20 percent risk of dying if he contracts COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine has shown antiviral properties in lab settings and can supposedly inhibit viruses from entering cells and prevent replication once they are inside. However, a recent study analyzed the outcomes of patients hospitalized at Veterans Health Administration medical centers. The results revealed that there were two primary outcomes for coronavirus patients treated with hydroxychloroquine — death and requiring mechanical ventilation.

As reported by TRT World, a study from researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, suggests that combining hydroxychloroquine with zinc can increase the drug’s effectiveness in treating coronavirus.

“Zinc itself has antiviral properties and past research has suggested it may reduce the time people suffer from common colds,” the report reads.

According to Joseph Rahimian, senior investigator on the study, zinc is the primary substance that attacks COVID-19 when combined with hydroxychloroquine.

Per BBC News, Trump said he is taking both zinc and the antibiotic azithromycin along with hydroxychloroquine as a preventative regimen against the virus.

Given the variation in research on hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness for treating coronavirus, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against using it unless within the context of clinical trials or prescribed by a medical professional in an emergency. Trials are currently underway in the United States and around the world to determine hydroxychloroquine’s potential for treating the virus. Such trials often test the drug on frontline workers who face a high risk of exposure to the pathogen.