Trump taking unproven drug to ward off coronavirus

US President Donald Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine – which health officials have warned may be unsafe – to ward off coronavirus.

Speaking at the White House, he told reporters he started taking the malaria and lupus medication recently.

“I’m taking it for about a week and a half now and I’m still here, I’m still here,” he said.

There is no evidence hydroxychloroquine can fight off coronavirus, though clinical trials are under way.

Asked on Monday what was his evidence of the drug’s positive benefits, Mr Trump said: “Here’s my evidence, I get a lot of positive calls about it.”

The president – who has repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine – suggested many medical workers were also taking the drug.

“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking, and especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers many, many are taking it,” he told reporters.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say there are no approved drugs or therapeutics to prevent or treat Covid-19.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month issued an advisory that hydroxychloroquine has “not been shown to be safe and effective”.

It cited reports that the drug can cause serious heart rhythm problems in Covid-19 patients.

The FDA warned against use of the medication outside hospitals, where the agency has granted temporary authorisation for its use if clinical trials are unavailable.

When asked whether the White House physician recommended he start taking the drug, Mr Trump said he had asked about it himself.

“I asked him, what do you think? He said, ‘well, if you’d like it’, I said yeah, I’d like it.”

Mr Trump also told reporters on Monday hydroxychloroquine “seems to have an impact”.

“And maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick and die.”

He added: “I’ve heard a lot of good stories and if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right I’m not going to get hurt by it.”

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