On Monday US President Donald Trump revealed he had been taking hydroxychloroquine – a medication used to prevent and treat malaria, insisting he had not displayed any symptoms from the medication amid warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against taking the drug outside of a hospital setting.
Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, took a dig at President Trump on Monday, referring to him as being =“morbidly obese”.
“I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group, and in his, shall we say, weight group: ‘Morbidly obese,’ they say,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, replying to Pres. Trump’s revelation that he is taking hydroxychloroquine. pic.twitter.com/0ImjpEjg9q
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) May 19, 2020
Pelosi, D-Calif., was speaking during an appearance on CNN on Monday night and was questioned by the anchor Anderson Cooper as to whether she was “concerned” by Donald Trump’s earlier announcement that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug he previously touted as a possible “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19.
“As far as the president is concerned, he’s our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group – what is it, morbidly obese they say. So I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Pelosi said.
According to the White House physician, last year’s annual physical checkup had shown that at a height of 6ft 3in (190.5 cm), Trump’s weight was 243lb (110kg). Accordingly, his body mass index scores at 30.4, which is technically obese.
Trump Reveals He’s Taking Hydroxychloroquine
Earlier on Monday, Trump had revealed to reporters that he has been talking hydroxychloroquine, and was prescribed the drug by the White House physician, as a preventive measure against the novel respiratory disease “for about a week and a half now”.
“I happen to be taking it. I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine,” said Trump.
“I’ve heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right I’m not going to get hurt by it.”
Appearing at a roundtable with restaurant executives, the President added he was also taking zinc as a supplement to ward off the disease, and had received a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin, reports the BBC.
Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley made a statement on the same day, saying:
“After numerous discussions he and I had about regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
As several staffers in the White House tested positive for COVID-19, Trump reiterated he was being tested frequently and had “zero symptoms”.
REUTERS / LEAH MILLIS
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with restaurant executives and industry leaders during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic meeting in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 18, 2020.
Trump’s bombshell announcement had critics warning Americans against self-prescribing the drug, as there is no consensus on its efficacy or safety.
“You have to have a discussion with your doctor to decide if it is best for you… It is not going to be good for everyone but it may be beneficial and potentially life-saving for others,” Fox News quoted Dr. Janette Nesheiwat as saying.
Another expert voiced apprehensions over President Trump continuing to tout the specific medication, which according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could cause heart problems if used outside of a hospital setting or clinical trial.
Former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen was cited by Fox News as underscoring there was “NO evidence for hydrochloroquine being effective in treatment of #covid19 or prophylaxis to prevent the disease”.
The expert added:
“This medication has serious side effects. I am very concerned about @realDonaldTrump continuing to model behaviour that could harm many Americans.”
Clinical Trial Underway
Last week, the US enrolled the first of 2,000 coronavirus positive adults displaying COVID-19 symptoms whose condition did not require hospitalisation in a phase 2 clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced in a press release.
While the first phase has confirmed the drug was safe, there is yet to be any evidence found that the drug used in malaria and autoimmune disease treatment could help stop the coronavirus.
US President Donald Trump has been publicly praising hydroxychloroquine, referring to promising studies in France and China. Thus, French scientists reported successful clinical trials of a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin against the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, with leading epidemiologists like Dr. Didier Raoult touting the chances of the drug.
“There’s a real chance that it could have a tremendous impact, it would be a gift from God; if that worked it would be a big game changer,” Trump said.
Critics, however, including Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease expert, have been urging caution until larger clinical trials have been conducted.
REUTERS / Bing Guan
A scientist at RNA medicines company Arcturus Therapeutics research a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at a laboratory in San Diego, California, U.S., March 17, 2020
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier issued an advisory, saying hydroxychloroquine has “not been shown to be safe and effective”, adding the medication can cause serious heart rhythm problems in COVID-19 patients.