President Donald Trump once again mentioned the experimental drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus patients during the White House COVID-19 briefing on Sunday, and announced that the federal government has stockpiled 29 million pills.
Trump has come out in support of hydroxychloroquine despite White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci’s assertion that such a drug has not been proven to be effective against the novel virus.
Despite Fauci’s warning, some believe the anti-malaria drug may excel the speed of recovery for those infected with the coronavirus.
“They’re not expensive. What do you have to lose?” the president said at the briefing. “What do I know, I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.”
Trump indicated that while the medication hasn’t been proven effective, he believes it makes sense to allow the public an option to use it. “I want people to live and I’m seeing people dying,” he said. “I’m seeing people dying without it… When that’s happening, they should do it. What really do we have to lose?”
“We don’t have time to say, ‘Gee let’s take a couple of years and test it out.'”
Later in the briefing, a reporter challenged the drug and asked why Trump was promoting it. “I want them to try it,” the president responded, “and it may work, then again, it may not work.”
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Fox News last week that America “still needs to do the definitive studies to determine whether any intervention, not just this one, is truly safe and effective.”
“But when you don’t have that information, it’s understandable why people might want to take something anyway even with the slightest hint of being effective,” Fauci explained.
During Fauci’s remarks at the press briefing on Sunday, a reporter asked the doctor about his thoughts on using hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients. Before Fauci could respond, Trump interjected, saying: “I’ve answered that question 15 times.”
Doctors in China last week reported that the anti-malaria drug had sped up the recovery of a small number of COVID-19 patients who suffered from mild symptoms, according to the New York Times. Their study found that a group that were given hydroxychloroquine saw symptoms such as cough, fever and pneumonia go away faster compared to a group that were not given the medication. Although the researchers said the drug appeared promising, they clarified that additional research will need to be done to determine how best to utilize it.
Trump has called the drug a “game-changer” in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.