President Donald Trump has doubled down on his support for a drug that is still being tested to treat the coronavirus, saying he might take the medicine himself and encouraged others with doctor approval to do the same.
Trump's optimistic comments at his daily press briefing on Saturday about the benefits of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, reflected his tendency to put a positive spin on an issue even as data was still being gathered.
"I may take it," Trump said. "I'll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it." Trump has been tested twice for the coronavirus, according to the White House, and both times the results were negative.
The European Commission said this week that the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine treating COVID-19 had not been proven.
Other clinical studies showed it is not effective against COVID-19 and it can have dangerous side effects, as well as giving people false hope. The latter has led to widespread shortages of hydroxychloroquine for patients who need it to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Trump said the federal government had 29 million doses of the drug and was adding to its national stockpile. He said he had asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to lift a hold on a US order of the drug as well.
The US Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency authorisation for the drug to be distributed from the national stockpile for doctors to prescribe to hospitalised COVID-19 patients, even as tests continue to be conducted and data collected.
"We're just hearing really positive stories and we're continuing to collect the data," Trump said.
Australian Associated Press