In a misguided and possibly fictional effort to guard against symptoms "in case" he contracts COVID-19, President Trump just told reporters on Monday that he's been taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for about ten days now.
"The frontline workers — many many are taking it," Trump said. "I happen to be taking it... I'm taking it, hydroxychloroquine." The reporters, astounded, had to make him say it twice, and when asked how long he'd been taking it, Trump said, "A couple of weeks ago," and then clarified, "about a week and a half." You can watch it all below in video from the Washington Post.
"I happen to be taking it"— Zach Purser Brown (@zachjourno) May 18, 2020
Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine pic.twitter.com/bNmAXVBzbI
Trump makes this jaw-dropping admission — just one of billions and billions of jaw-dropping statements he's made since taking office — despite the fact that the medical community has strongly advised against using this drug, so far unproven against the virus, due to the potential for severe side effects, especially impacting the heart.
Bay Area-based epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant, speaking to KQED about a month ago, discussed how he had taken hydroxychloroquine on two occasions in his life to treat two cases of malaria, and he said it's a "brutal drug" that he found was worse than malaria itself. "You wouldn't want to take it unless it was the only [drug] you had, as with malaria," Brilliant said.
Trump admitted to reporters that no doctor recommended he take the drug, but he requested it from the White House physician.
He literally said, "I started taking it, because I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories." He added, "And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it."
As the Washington Post notes, evidence of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine has been "scant," and no one has been advising that it should be taken by COVID-negative people as a preventative measure. Side effects, according to WebMD, include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and low blood sugar. Serious side effects are many, including symptoms of heart failure, mental and mood changes, hair loss, skin color changes, and other symptoms of liver failure.
Is it possible that the White House physician gave Trump a placebo just to shut him up? Is it possible that he's just lying to promote another of his crackpot claims, digging in out of stubbornness and an immoral, irrational need to tell the public that everything's fine and he's never wrong?
Yes, and yes.
Many on Twitter think it's the latter, and this is all another in a litany of lies that will someday be catalogued for posterity about the historical blunder of the Trump presidency. And others are just hoping it's true and turns out to be our idiot president's undoing, before he even catches the virus.
Trump has been pushing hydroxychloroquine since early April, long before a UCSF-led study named it among 10 existing drugs that may prove effective against the virus — and quite likely one of the most dangerous in terms of side effects. As the Washington Post noted at the time, his motives for touting the drug seemed most likely political, and not based on the fact that he owns a small stake in the French drugmaker Sanofi that makes one name-brand version of the drug, Plaquenil.