Trump is all-in on hydroxychloroquine, a drug he has touted without proof as a miracle cure for those afflicted with COVID-19. The president told the press he has been taking the controversial drug — which he has promoted despite scientists finding it does not help treat COVID-19 — for the past “couple weeks.”
“A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy. A lot of good things have come out,” Trump said at a White House event on Thursday. “You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it. I happen to be taking it. … I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine, right now.”
The president added that he was prescribed the drug by the White House physician, who told him it was “fine to take.”
“I asked [the White House doctor], ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘Well, if you’d like it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it.’ A lot of people are taking it, a lot of frontline workers are taking hydroxychloroquine,” Trump claimed, later adding, “So, I’m taking the zinc and the hydroxy. And all I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK.”
— PoliticsVideo23 (@politicsvideo23) May 18, 2020
Here’s the thing: Trump may well be taking hydroxychloroquine. We have no evidence to the contrary. But he has so blatantly lied about so many things, so the fact that he says he’s taking it is almost entirely irrelevant to the truth.
What we do know for sure is that Trump is implicitly promoting hydroxychloroquine despite the fact that the science on it is far from settled. It can cause heart arrhythmia and is typically prescribed to patients with malaria and lupus. Some studies have found it to be either unhelpful or actively harmful when given to people suffering from COVID-19. At least one study found that more COVID-19 patients who took hydroxychloroquine died compared with those who received standard care. And another large study out of Columbia University found that “patients who received hydroxychloroquine had the same risk of intubation or death as patients who did not receive the drug.”
It’s not impossible that new evidence will come out about the drug, but you could say that about almost any treatment, and so it seems awfully dangerous to take this one. Or, as Neil Cavuto of the normally Trump-friendly Fox News urgently told viewers while citing studies that found hydroxychloroquine did not cure COVID-19: “If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventive treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.”
Fox News's Neil Cavuto is stunned by Trump's announcement that he's taking hydroxychloroquine: "If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you." pic.twitter.com/e6D5alfAgc
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 18, 2020
And while it should go without saying, please do not ingest bleach, a definite not-cure for COVID-19 that the president suggested would be “interesting to check” out.
Just like scientists warned us not to look directly into the eclipse (and, despite this, Trump did), scientists are similarly warning us not to take hydroxychloroquine — including Dr. Rick Bright, who was ousted from his position in the Department of Health and Human Services for doing so.
Do as the FDA says, not as the president does.