US President Donald Trump has again defended the use of hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, contradicting his own public health officials.
He said the malaria medication was only rejected as a Covid-19 treatment because he had recommended its use.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautioned against using the drug to treat coronavirus patients, following reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” and other health issues.
The FDA also revoked its emergency-use authorisation for the drug to treat Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) says “there is currently no proof” that it is effective as a treatment or prevents Covid-19.
On Tuesday the president told reporters at the White House: “I can only say that from my standpoint, and based on a lot of reading and a lot of knowledge about it, I think it could have a very positive impact in the early stages.
“I don’t think you lose anything by doing it, other than politically it doesn’t seem too popular.”
He added: “When I recommend something, they like to say ‘don’t use it.'”
On the wider situation in the US, the president said large numbers of masks and gowns were being produced and 55 million tests had been carried out – “more than anybody in the world”.
Why has hydroxychloroquine come up again?
President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr were among social media users who retweeted video late on Monday of a group called America’s Frontline Doctors advocating hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment.
Facebook and Twitter removed the content, flagging it as misinformation, but not before more than 17 million people had seen one of the clips.
Twitter also banned the US president’s eldest son from tweeting for 12 hours as a penalty for sharing the clip. In the past, Twitter has declined to remove tweets by President Trump himself and other world leaders, citing public interest and newsworthiness.
In the video, Dr Stella Immanuel, a doctor from Houston, says she has successfully treated 350 coronavirus patients “and counting” with hydroxychloroquine. Watch below…
The president said on Tuesday: “I think they’re very respected doctors. There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it.”
Pop queen, Madonna’s post was also flagged as “false information” by Instagram after she shared same video which was retweeted by President Trump before being removed for ‘misinformation’ by Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.
America’s Frontline Doctors’ founder Simone Gold accused social media companies of censorship for removing the hydroxychloroquine video.
“Treatment options for COVID-19 should be debated, and spoken about among our colleagues in the medical field,” she tweeted. “They should never, however, be censored and silenced.”