Trump promotes use of drug for coronavirus: ‘I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense’
President Trump on Sunday forcefully touted the use of hydroxychloroquine as a potential means to combat or even prevent the onset of symptoms from the coronavirus, wading further into a medical debate that has put him at odds with some of his top health experts.
Trump said the government has stockpiled 29 million pills of the drug, which is also used to treat lupus. For a second consecutive day, he suggested even those without coronavirus symptoms might consider taking the drug despite limited evidence about its efficacy in treating the virus.
“What do you have to lose?” he said. “I’m not looking at it one way or another. But we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early.”
“What do I know? I’m not a doctor,” he added. “But I have common sense.”
The president has for days opined on the potential efficacy of hydroxychloroquine when taken with azithromycin.
But Sunday’s comments marked the furthest he has veered into playing armchair doctor. He acknowledged the drug may not work but suggested there was no time to wait and let clinical trials play out.
“I want people to live, and I’m seeing people dying,” he said. “And you know the expression when that’s happening. You should do it. What really do we have to lose?”
Other administration officials on Sunday joined in the effort to promote the drug’s availability. Vice President Pence said the government was working with Michigan to make the drug more readily available, and a top Federal Emergency Management Agency official organizing supply chain efforts said the agency is prioritizing getting pills out to pharmacies and hospitals in areas experiencing outbreaks.
The promotion of hydroxychloroquine has been a point of tension within the White House as Trump has repeatedly pushed it at press briefings.
Axios reported Sunday that top White House trade adviser Peter Navarro clashed with Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about how aggressively to promote the drug.
Fauci has been adamant that it is too soon to say how effective the drug is.
“The data are really just at best suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect, and there are others to show there’s no effect,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning. “So I think in terms of science, I don’t think we could definitively say it works.”
The administration’s aggressive promotion of the drug has also led to a shortage of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, the Food and Drug Administration said last week, raising concerns for those who take the drugs for conditions such as lupus.