President Trump doubled down on his campaign to cast a malaria drug as a coronavirus cure, saying the treatment could be a game changer despite skepticism from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government officials.
“HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
“Hopefully they will BOTH…be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”
Trump has repeatedly hyped the malaria treatment as a possible cure for COVID-19, which has already infected nearly 20,000 people in the U.S.
The president repeatedly said he has a good “feeling” about the drug at a White House press conference Friday.
“I feel good about it. That’s all it is. Just a feeling,” he said. “You know, I’m a smart guy. I feel good about it. And we’re going to see. You’re going to see soon enough.”
However, Trump’s confidence over the drug flies in the face of remarks from other government officials who are less bullish over the treatment’s possible effect on the coronavirus.
When asked on Friday if hydroxychloroquine could be used to prevent COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, replied “no.”
“The information that you’re referring to specifically is anecdotal,” Fauci added. “It was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.”
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has also downplayed the potency of the drug on COVID-19, saying this week he does not want to “provide false hope.”
“We may have the right drug, but it might not be in the appropriate dosage form right now, and it might do more harm than good,” he said.
Hahn added during the White House press conference that a vaccine for the coronavirus is currently in the first phase of a clinical trial and wouldn’t be ready for 12 months.
The muddled messaging comes as the White House grapples with the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 18,000 people and killed 239 in the U.S. as of Saturday morning, according to The New York Times’s tally.