President Donald Trump's doctor has addressed hydroxychloroquine as a method to help prevent coronavirus. The drug is typically used to treat diseases like malaria and lupus and has been used to treat some patients afflicted with COVID-19. While there's no definite evidence that it's an effective method, the president has routinely touted it as a possible cure.
On Monday, Trump caused a stir on social media after telling reporters that he takes the drug daily, as well as claiming that it was taken by frontline healthcare workers. Just hours after the president's remarks, Physician to the President Sean P. Conley sent a letter addressing his daily medication. He asserts that Trump "is in very good health and has remained symptom-free" and confirms that he is taking hydroxychloroquine regularly. As far as the controversy behind the drug itself, Conley stated that "we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risk."
Trump’s doctor says after discussing evidence for and against hydroxychloroquine with the president, they concluded the potential benefit outweighed the risks pic.twitter.com/icxDtBTLex— Justin Sink (@justinsink) May 19, 2020
"In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continue to monitor the myriad [of] studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future," the letter concludes. The World Health Organization has cautioned about the "serious side effects and illness" that come with the drug. Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, testified remotely before the Senate on May 12 that "there's no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective."
Another major concern over Trump's assertions are the fact that those that suffer from lupus are finding themselves without access to the medicine they need as a result. Paul Howard of the group Lupus UK spoke to The Guardian back in March about the critical shortages they've been facing. "We are incredibly concerned at the moment," Howard said. "We started receiving inquiries from patients across the UK about a week ago. That's been rapidly increasing — more and more people each day."
Since March, numerous countries including Italy and France have relaxed their regulations on the drug, which allows doctors to prescribe it to patients afflicted with COVID-19. This has also contributed to its shortages, as well.