Donald Trump and his media ally Fox News spent weeks hyping a possible COVID-19 treatment that was not only untested—it turned out to be deadly. On April 4, during one of his daily press bashings, Trump rattled off a list of things that were being done to address the deadly pandemic. One of the things he mentioned was an anti-malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat lupus.
During the same press briefing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, cautioned that more research was needed as to whether hydroxychloroquine might be beneficial in treating COVID-19. But Trump interjected, taking over the podium to again promote hydroxychloroquine. He even said he was considering taking it himself! You can see that clip below, and listen to what Trump said of hydroxychloroquine after Dr. Fauci cautioned that more research was needed:
What do you have to lose? Turns out, your life. One Arizona man died after taking the drug. His wife said they took it after seeing Donald Trump’s press briefing. Now a study submitted to The New England Journal of Medicine not only showed that there are no benefits to taking hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19—there was a higher mortality rate among patients who did take it. The Associated Press sums up the details of the largest study on hydroxychlorquine as a COVID-19 treatment to date:
Researchers analyzed medical records of 368 male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at Veterans Health Administration medical centers who died or were discharged by April 11.
About 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival.
Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either.
It’s truly nothing short of outrageous that Donald Trump was promoting a drug that can be harmful and was completely unproven to be effective at treating COVID-19. People died because of his promotion of that drug. And he wasn’t alone. The media arm of the Republican Party relentlessly promoted the idea as well. According to the trackers at Media Matters, Fox News promoted hydroxychloroquine nearly 300 times over a two-week period after Donald Trump mentioned it. Yet again, they were endangering their own audience with misinformation.
Media Matters noted the biggest Fox News pushers were Dr. Oz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and the Fox & Friends morning dingbats. Because, of course: These folks work in concert with Donald Trump and the Republican Party at large, promoting one bad idea after another.
Trump was still promoting hydroxychloroquine just two days ago! On April 18, he retweeted an article from conservative group Judicial Watch saying he was winning on his hydroxychloroquine gamble.
But here is the moment that started it all. Trump heard something about a potential treatment and he latched on to it before waiting for all the facts, announcing it and promoting it to the world. Please watch this again and remember: Never take medical advice from Donald Trump or anyone on Fox News. Do take medical advice from your own doctor and health care experts like Dr. Fauci.
HHS continues to speed the development of therapies derived from human blood that have the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of the illness. And as you know, last Saturday, the FDA also gave emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine. And the hydroxychloroquine is a — I hope it’s going to be a very important answer. We’re having some very good things happening with it, and we’re going to be distributing it through the Strategic National Stockpile. It’s going into the Strategic National Stockpile to treat certain patients. And we have millions and millions of doses of it; 29 million to be exact.
In addition to that, we’re making it and we’re also getting it from various other locations and countries. In one case, I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning. They make large amounts of hydroxychloroquine — very large amounts, frankly. And I said — they had a hold, because, you know, they have 1.5. billion people, and they think a lot of it. And I said I’d appreciate it if they would release the amounts that we ordered. And they are giving it serious consideration. But they do make — India makes a lot of it.
But we have already 29 million. If you look — I mean, that’s a big number. Twenty-nine million doses. And we’ve got millions of doses that are being made here and many millions of doses that are made elsewhere that are being shipped here, and it will be arriving.
We’re just hearing really positive stories, and we’re continuing to collect the data. But I’ll just speak for myself: It’s been out for a long time. It’s a malaria drug. It’s also a drug for lupus. And there’s a — there’s a study out that people with lupus aren’t catching this horrible virus. They’re not — they’re not affected so much by it. Now, maybe that’s correct; maybe it’s false. You’re going to have to check it out.
But there’s a lot of very positive things happening with that. That’s a game changer if that’s the case. Obviously, we continue to work on the vaccines, but the vaccines have to be down the road by probably 14, 15, 16 months. We’re doing great on the vaccines. I think Johnson & Johnson is leading — seems to be leading in terms of the studies, but we’ll see what happens. But I feel good about that, but that’s down the road.