United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday once again endorsed the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of the coronavirus, AP reported. Trump also claimed that the drug was rejected as a treatment only because he had supported it.
In a White House briefing, Trump defended his decision to promote a viral video of a group of doctors encouraging the use of the drug on Monday. The US Food and Drug Administration has withdrawn its emergency use approval for the drug, and the World Health Organization has stopped its trials citing ineffectiveness.
“I think they’re very respected doctors,” Trump said, adding that they believed in the drug. “There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it.” The doctors were part of a group known as America’s Frontline Doctors, taking part in an event organised by fundraiser group Tea Party Patriots Action.
Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr posted videos of the event on Facebook and Twitter, but the social media giants took them down. Twitter also restricted Donald Trump Jr’s use of his account for 12 hours.
This prompted a backlash from the president’s supporters as well as some of the doctors, who accused Facebook and Twitter of censorship. “Treatment options for Covid-19 should be debated, and spoken about among our colleagues in the medical field,” Simone Gold, one of the doctors, tweeted. “They should never, however, be censored and silenced.”
Twitter also took down retweets by Trump that attacked top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, claiming that he had been “misleading the American public”. Fauci is also a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Hours later on Tuesday, Trump appeared to attempt a reconciliation, saying that he got along very well with Fauci. “He’s got a very good approval rating, and I like that,” Trump said.
Fauci told ABC’s Good Morning America show that he will continue to keep his head down and do his job. “This is what I do, this is what I’ve been trained for my entire professional life, and I’ll continue to do it,” he said. “I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.”
Fauci also said that the “overwhelming prevailing clinical trials” that have looked at the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine showed there was no evidence that the drug worked against Covid-19.
Trump has been promoting the drug since April. India has sold large amounts of hydroxychloroquine to the United States and many other foreign countries.
The global coronavirus count has now gone up to 1.66 crore while the toll has crossed 6.59 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 97.03 lakh people have recovered.