United States President Donald Trump said on Monday that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that some believe is effective in combating the novel coronavirus, over the past couple of weeks, AFP reported.

“Frontline workers...many, many are taking it,” Trump told media persons at the White House according to CNN. “Hydroxychloroquine. I am taking it. Couple of weeks ago, started taking it. Heard a lot of good stories. And if its not good...I am not gonna get hurt by it. It’s been around for 40 years, for malaria, for lupus. Frontline workers take it, doctors take it.”

In April, India supplied large quantities of hydroxychloroquine to the US and several other countries. In response, Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “terrific”. Trump has promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine on more than one occasion since April, despite the US Food and Drug Administration cautioning against its use outside hospital settings.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States crossed 15.5 lakh on Monday, and the toll crossed 90,000, with 759 deaths. However, this was lower than the 820 deaths the country reported on Sunday.

Trump attacks WHO again

The United States president attacked the World Health Organization again on Monday, calling it a “puppet of China”, AFP reported. Trump has in the past claimed that the WHO has been biased towards China and has failed to effectively deal with the pandemic.

“They’re a puppet of China, they’re China-centric to put it nicer,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday. Trump said the United States pays around $450 million (over Rs 3,400 crore) annually to the global health organisation. He said his government was making plans to slash this amount because “we’re not treated right”.

The president said that China pays just $40 million (Rs 302 crore) per year to the WHO, and that there had been suggestions for Washington to reduce its contribution to this amount, but “some people thought that was too much”.

Trump’s remarks came on the same day that the WHO agreed to conduct an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic. The Chinese government on Monday gave in to global pressure supporting a probe to determine the origin of the virus.

The United States has alleged that the virus had originated not in a wet market in Wuhan city, but in a laboratory in China, and has initiated its own investigation. On Monday, India backed calls for an independent inquiry into the matter.

Globally, the virus has so far infected over 48 lakh people, and has killed more than 3.18 lakh, according to a tracker by the Johns Hopkins University.

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