Trump says he’s taking malaria drug to protect against virus

Trump says he’s taking malaria drug to protect against virus

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that he is taking a 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.” Trump 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. The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the new coronavirus.

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.”

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. Regulators issued the alert for the drug, which can also be used to treat lupus and arthritis, after receiving reports of heart rhythm problems, including deaths, from poison control centres and other health providers.

Trump dismissed reports of side effects, saying, “All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK.”

At least two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, sparking concerns about the steps taken by the administration to protect the president and sending Vice-President Mike Pence and other officials into varying forms of self-isolation.

The White House has since mandated that those in the West Wing wear face coverings and has introduced daily testing for the virus for the president, vice-president and those they come in close contact with. Trump says he continues to test negative for the coronavirus.

Trump last underwent an “interim” checkup in a November visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that was not noted on his public schedule. His last complete physical took place in February 2019.

Several prominent doctors said they worried that people would infer from Trump’s example that the drug works or is safe.

“There is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective for the treatment or the prevention of COVID-19,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association. “The results to date are not promising.”

People should not infer from Trump’s example “that it’s an approved approach or proven,” because it’s not, said Dr. David Aronoff, infectious diseases chief at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Hydroxychloroquine can cause potentially serious heart rhythm problems even in healthy people, but “it’s hard to infer” that Trump’s artery plaque, revealed in tests from his 2018 physical, makes the drug especially dangerous for him, Aronoff said.

White House officials did not make the president’s physician, Navy Cdr. Dr. Sean Conley, available for comment, nor did they say whether any other administration officials were also taking the drug.

Trump said he took hydroxychloroquine with an “original dose” of the antibiotic azithromycin. The president has repeatedly pushed the use of the drug with or without the azithromycin, but no large, rigorous studies have found them safe or effective for preventing or treating COVID-19.

Two large observational studies, each involving around 1,400 patients in New York, recently found no benefit from hydroxychloroquine. Two new ones published Thursday in the medical journal BMJ reached the same conclusion.

One, by French researchers, gave 84 hospitalized patients the drug and 97 others the usual care. There were no differences in the odds of death, need for intensive care or developing severe illness.

The other study from China was a stricter test: 150 adults hospitalized with mild or moderate illness were randomly assigned to get hydroxychloroquine or usual care. The drug made no difference in rates of clearing the virus or time to relief of symptoms, and they brought more side effects.

In April, the National Institutes of Health launched a study testing hydroxychloroquine versus a placebo drug in 500 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Last week, NIH announced another study to see if hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin can prevent hospitalization or death in people with mild to moderate illness. About 2,000 U.S. adults with confirmed coronavirus infections and symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath will get the drugs or placebo pills.

U.S. prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine surged roughly 80% in March to more than 830,000 compared with same period in the prior year, according to data tracking firm IQVIA. That jump in prescribing came before the federal government accepted nearly 30 million doses of the drug donated to the strategic national stockpile by foreign drugmakers. Since then, millions of those tablets have been shipped to U.S. hospitals nationwide for use treating patients with COVID-19.

—-

Marchione reported from Milwaukee. AP medical writer Matthew Perrone in Washington contributed to this report.

Zeke Miller, Marilynn Marchione And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press

Donald Trump

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

All Halkirk 2 Wind Project tower permits now approved

Appellants have 30 days to file an appeal

1 in 7 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19

56 additional cases Thursday, 1,107 active cases remain in the province

Green earns big win as PBR returns to action

Meeting Creek cowboy continues to make his mark in bull riding

94 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, two more deaths

1,146 active cases with 9,891 recovered cases

COVID-19: One more death reported in central zone

Number of active cases has decreased by more than 200 since last week

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

‘Caught up in the frenzy:’ Oilers 50/50 draw breaking ticket sale records

Previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million

Alberta jury trials to resume next month at offsite locations due to COVID-19

About 12 locations across Alberta may host the trials in halls, hotels and community centres

Alberta school curriculum to focus on basics, keep out political bias: minister

NDP education critic says the kindergarten to Grade 4 changes should have been implemented a year ago

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Most Read