In recent months, the use of the known malaria and lupus drug hydroxychloroquine as a remedy for COVID-19 has become questionable for some public health experts.
Regulators have warned that the drug may cause heart problems, and that there’s no evidence it can fight the deadly virus.
The World Health Organization also said that no clinical trials have recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
In a startling revelation at the white house on Monday — President Donald Trump said he’s been taking the drug.
“Yeah I’ve taken it for about a week and a half now, and I’m still here.”
He said he has confidence in the drug – mainly – because he has gotten positive feedback.
“Good things have come out about the hydroxy, a lot of good things have come out. And you’d be surprised at how many people have taken and especially the frontline workers.”
Health experts all over the world reacted with surprise over Trump’s use of hydroxychloroquine.
“There was some preclinical evidence, so laboratory based evidence, that suggested that hydroxychloroquine might be useful in the fight against COVID-19. So the Food and Drug Administration in the United States suggested that it could be used as an experimental drug in some hospitalised patients in the U.S., to see if it does work or not. So that’s how it’s being – or how it should be – used in the U.S.. We’ve heard President Trump today suggest that he is using it prophylactically – as in he hasn’t got any symptoms of COVID, but he’s using it to try to ward off symptoms. There’s no evidence that also suggests that it has any benefit in that particular area,” said Dr. Michael Head, University of Southampton.
Dr. Head also said there are problems when high profile people recommend the use of drugs — that are not backed up by scientific evidence.
“There will be extra side effects seen in populations from those drugs who are using them without a proper prescription. We will see some possible supply chain issues if hydroxychloroquine is used by many people for conditions for which it is not recommended.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, Trump amped up his criticism of the WHO – threatening to permanently withdraw funding and cancel U.S. membership — unless the agency cleans up its act.
Trump has accused the WHO of mishandling the global coronavirus pandemic.
“They have to do a better job. They have to be much more fair to other countries, including the united states. So we’re not going to be involved with them anymore and we’ll do it a separate way. Okay?”
The WHO has not directly responded to Trump’s threat but declared that it will continue to lead the fight against COVID-19.
“We will continue providing strategic leadership to co-ordinate the global response. And support the efforts by the countries. We will continue providing the world with epidemiological information and analysis. We will continue to keep the world informed and give people and communities the information they need to keep themselves and each other safe,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General.
As of Tuesday, the U.S. by far still has the most cases of COVID-19 in the world with more than 1.5 million and over 91,000 deaths.