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Coronavirus: Donald Trump defends taking anti-malarial drug despite reported dangerous side effects

Coronavirus: Donald Trump defends taking anti-malarial drug despite reported dangerous side effects
Copyright Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.Alex Brandon
Copyright Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Rachael Kennedy
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US President Donald Trump says he has been taking a drug used by lupus and arthritis sufferers to protect himself from COVID-19, despite a lack of evidence that it actually combats the disease.


Donald Trump has defended his decision to take a contested anti-malarial drug to protect himself from COVID-19, despite dangerous potential side effects and a lack of proof that it combats the disease.

The US president said on Tuesday that a study showing adverse side effects of hydroxychloroquine was "false" and an "enemy statement" - although, he gave no evidence to back this up.

Hydroxychloroquine is a vital treatment for people with lupus or arthritis, but studies on its impact on COVID-19 are slim, and have not been able to prove that it combats the disease.

It has, however, raised alarm about its potential side effects, which can be lethal.

The US government has warned the drug should not be taken for COVID-19 outside a hospital setting, but Trump appears to have defied this guideline.

He revealed earlier in the week that he had been taking the drug "for about a week and a half now" after requesting it from the White House physician. His doctor did not recommend it to him.

“This is an individual decision to make," Trump said later on Tuesday, adding: “It’s gotten a bad reputation only because I’m promoting it.”

A charitable organisation specialising in research into quinoline-related drugs re-shared a press statement it released in mid-March on hydroxychloroquine that said even low doses could cause "permanent neuropsychiatric adverse effects".

These include: "Tinnitus, dizziness, vertigo, paresthesias, visual disturbances, nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, agoraphobia, paranoia, cognitive dysfunction, depression, personality change, and suicidal thoughts, among others."

Euronews, last month, looked into the usage of hydroxychloroquine, and found those prescribed it as life-saving treatment for other ailments had found themselves running into difficulties after supply chains were depleted amid the hype around its effect against COVID-19.

But on Monday night, Trump said he had started taking the drug because he thought it was "good", adding: "I’ve heard a lot of good stories."

"All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK."

White House physician Dr Sean Conley later said he had held "numerous discussions" with the president and had "concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks".

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