U.S. President Donald Trump revealed that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc daily for more than a week, because he has heard “many good things” about its effect against the coronavirus, but insisted that he has “zero symptoms” of the disease. “I’m taking it, the hydroxychloroquine. I started taking it a couple of weeks ago. It’s not going to hurt me,” Trump told reporters at the end of a White House event with restaurant industry representatives.

“I take a pill every day, at some point I’ll stop,” he added, after clarifying that he was referring to both hydroxychloroquine and zinc. For more than a month, Trump has been extolling the virtues of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used against malaria, lupus or severe arthritis, which has been prescribed to many COVID-19 patients worldwide but is still in clinical trials. He said he started taking it because he wanted to, and because he heard “good things” about the drug and asked his White House doctor what he thought, who said he could prescribe it “if he wanted to. Trump stressed that he has “zero symptoms” of coronavirus and that he gets tested “every couple of days” and “always comes back negative,” but he decided to start that treatment because “many doctors and nurses are taking it as prevention. “It seems to have an impact, and if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick and die (?) I’ve been taking it for a week and a half and I’m still here,” he added.

Warnings against using the drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned in late April against using hydroxychloroquine outside a hospital or clinical trial because of the risk of developing heart arrhythmias. In addition, there’s not enough evidence that hydroxychloroquine works prophylactically to prevent IDOC-19, according to a study published in late April in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.

Trump’s insistence on promoting hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus has created tensions in his government: a vaccine expert, Rick Bright, reported this month that he was fired from his job at the Department of Health for political reasons, after expressing concern about the high profile of the treatment. In addition, Trump’s praise led to difficulties among arthritis and lupus patients in obtaining hydroxychloroquine, and in March, a coronavirus sufferer died in Arizona after ingesting a version of the chemical that was not designed for human consumption but for cleaning aquariums.

The president, who in April already generated controversy by suggesting that injections with disinfectant could be a treatment for the coronavirus, insisted that he has not had contact with patients with COVID-19. However, at least two officials in his entourage have tested positive for the disease in recent weeks, prompting Trump to keep his distance until Monday from his vice president, Mike Pence.

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