Donald Trump has directly urged Americans worried about Covid-19 to take a little-studied anti-malaria drug for the disease, despite potentially serious side effects and a lack of data on safety and efficacy in treatment of the pandemic virus.
At a lengthy, rambling and combative briefing on Saturday afternoon, the president also sought to discredit media reports of his administration’s failures and called some outlets in the White House press corps “fake news”.
Media reports about shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment, he claimed, relied on state governors asking for more supplies than they needed.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, by Saturday evening more than 305,000 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in the US, resulting in more than 8,000 deaths. New York is by far the state worst hit.
Scientists around the world are looking for potential treatments but so far have not found a success. The drug repeatedly pushed by Trump, hydroxychloroquine, has only shown anecdotal promise.
The drug is used to treat malaria, arthritis and lupus. Reports of its potential have driven up sales and made it difficult for Americans who rely on the drug to fill prescriptions.
He also said he “may take it” himself, though he would “have to ask my doctors about that”.