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US sends Brazil malaria drug touted by Trump as COVID-19 cases top 500,000

US sends Brazil malaria drug touted by Trump as COVID-19 cases top 500,000
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The White House on Sunday announced that it has sent more than 2 million doses of an anti-malaria drug touted by President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE as a COVID-19 treatment to Brazil as the nation's coronavirus cases topped 500,000.

In a joint statement with the Brazilian government obtained by The Associated Press, White House officials also pledged to send 1,000 ventilators along with the doses of hydroxychloroquine to the South American country, which has become a hot spot for coronavirus amid the ongoing global pandemic.

Brazil has been particularly hard-hit by the virus even as the country's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has publicly dismissed the seriousness of the pandemic, calling it a "little flu" and clashing with local officials who have implemented lockdown measures to control the spread.

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The country surpassed Russia as the location with the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases late last month, prompting the Trump administration to implement travel restrictions on non-U.S. citizens entering from the country.

"The President has taken decisive action to protect our country by suspending the entry of aliens who have been in Brazil during the 14-day period before seeking admittance to the United States," White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said in May.

"As of May 23, 2020, Brazil had 310,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world. Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country. These new restrictions do not apply to the flow of commerce between the United States and Brazil," she added.

Trump has long touted hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment for the coronavirus despite there being a lack of any large-scale studies showing that the drug is a safe or effective treatment for COVID-19.

Last month, the president revealed he had taken a two-week course of the drug in hopes it would prevent him from getting the virus after there were some confirmed cases within the White House.