News, Culture & Society

Donald Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump said on Monday he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine for the past week and a half but added he doesn’t have the coronavirus.

The president made the shocking announcement at the White House during an event with restaurant workers. 

‘I’m taking it – hydroxychloroquine. Right now yeah. A couple of weeks ago, started taking it,’ he said.

The president repeatedly has touted hydroxychloroquine – used to treat malaria, lupus and other diseases – and the antibiotic azithromycin, often sold under the brand name Zithromax, or as a ‘Z-pack,’ to be used to treat the coronavirus.

Trump said he is taking both medications but has had no side effects.

‘I’m taking the two – the zinc and the hydroxy,’ he said. ‘So far I seem to be okay.’

‘I have been taking it for about a weekend for about a week and a half,’ he noted. ‘Every day. I take a pill every day.’

‘At some point I’ll stop,’ he added. 

He said he has ‘zero symptoms’ of the coronavirus, is tested daily and has tested negative.

‘Totally negative, no symptoms, no nothing,’ the president said. 

President Donald Trump said he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a few weeks

Hydroxychloroquine has potentially serious side effects, including to the heart

Hydroxychloroquine has potentially serious side effects, including to the heart

‘I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it is not good, I will tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it. It has been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it,’ he said.

Side effects of hydroxychloroquine 

 Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dizziness, or headache

slow heartbeat, symptoms of heart failure (such as shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, unusual tiredness, unusual/sudden weight gain)

mental/mood changes (such as anxiety, depression, rare thoughts of suicide, hallucinations)

hearing changes (such as ringing in the ears, hearing loss), easy bruising/bleeding

signs of infection or liver disease

muscle weakness, unwanted/uncontrolled movements (including tongue/face twitching), hair loss, hair/skin color changes

low blood sugar, severe dizziness, fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat, seizures

 – from WebMD

He said he asked the White House physician about taking it.

‘He said well if you’d like it. I said yeah I’d like it, I’d like to take it,’ Trump said. 

‘I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this,’ he told the assembled media.

The president said many frontline workers also take it. 

‘You’d be surprised at how many people are taken and especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers many, many are taking it,’ he noted. 

He said he’s confident in the drugs because he’s heard good things about them.

‘Here’s my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it,’ he said. 

Hydroxy has potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death, and the FDA has warned against its use for coronavirus infections except in formal studies. 

The president shrugged off reports of its side effects.

‘You’re not going to get sick or die,’ he said about taking the medication. ‘I’ve taken it about for a week and a half now. And I’m still here.’ 

A study released last Monday showed hydroxychloroquine does not work against Covid-19 and could cause heart problems.

It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and follows an earlier study in the New England Journal of Medicine that also showed the drug doesn’t fight the virus.

Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health issued warnings about using the drugs for coronavirus patients.

‘Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. They are being studied in clinical trials for COVID-19, and we authorized their temporary use during the COVID-19 pandemic for treatment of the virus in hospitalized patients,’ the FDA warning said. 

‘Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data from a large randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine whether this experimental treatment is safe and can improve clinical outcomes,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and head of the NIH said last week.

Trump dismissed such studies.

‘If you look at that phony report that was put – in that report or the hydroxy was given to people that were an extraordinarily bad condition, extraordinary bad people that were dying. No, I think for whatever it’s worth I take I was,’ he said.

Trump said a doctor wrote to him about hydroxy and his description fits that of Vladimir Zelenko, a New York doctor who is being investigated by prosecutors

Trump said a doctor wrote to him about hydroxy and his description fits that of Vladimir Zelenko, a New York doctor who is being investigated by prosecutors 

The president said a doctor in New York wrote to him about treating his patients with both hydroxy and the z-pack.

He did not mention a name but the description fits that of Vladimir Zelenko, a New York doctor who has promoted hydroxy as a coronavirus treatment and has been touted by Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Federal prosecutors are examining Zelenko’s records after conservative commentator Jerome Corsi, accidentally sent an email intended for Zelenko to another ‘Z’ name in his address book — federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who as a member of special counsel Robert Mueller III’s team who examined Corsi’s activities during the 2016 presidential election, according to The Washington Post.

Zelinsky is tasked now with investigating coronavirus-related crimes in the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office, including fake cures for the disease. 

Trump’s enthusiasm for the drugs was based on a French study of 20 patients in March that showed the drugs might work against the virus. But many scientists have questioned the methods that study and one from China used, saying more research on the drugs were needed.

Trump has repeatedly touted stories he’s heard of hydroxy’s effect on those with the coronavirus.

In early April, he talked about Michigan State Rep. Karen Whitsett, who he saw on Ingraham’s show the previous evening talking about her experience with the drug.

‘A woman last night, I watched her on one of the shows, good show, Laura, and she thought she was dead. She was a representative from Michigan. She was just in horrible shape for 12 days, 14 days. She thought she was dead. I think she said that her doctor said it’s going to be very tough. She saw me talking about this and she asked her husband to go to the drugstore. This is a Democrat representative, a person that you know perhaps wouldn’t be voting for me. I think she will be voting for me now even if she’s a Democrat,’ he said. 

‘She asked her husband, she said please go out. I’m not going to make it. You have to hear her story. Please go out and get it. He went at 10:00 in the evening to the drugstore and he got it. He gave it to her. I don’t say it works like this but four hours later she woke and she said I feel better. And then shortly thereafter she felt great,’ the president said. 

Ingraham met with Trump in the Oval Office to tout the drug. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, has been an advocate of the disease.  

Trump repeatedly has advocated for hydroxychloroquine to be used as a treatment option for the coronavirus even as many medical officials – including Dr. Tony Fauci, who sits on the White House Coronavirus Task Force – have urged a more cautious approach, noting the lack of reputable scientific studies on hydroxychloroquine.

And, in early April, during an impromptu White House press briefing Trump stopped Fauci from answering a question from a reporter about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine.

When reporters tried to get Fauci’s opinion on the drug – after he previously warned against seeing the malaria medication as a wonder drug – Trump stepped in and stopped the question.

‘We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. And hopefully in the not-too-distant future we’ll be very proud of the job we all did,’ Trump said, instead of letting Fauci answer.