How false hope about a ‘miracle drug’ caused chaos in America?
Trump’s persistent promotion of hydroxychloroquine or HCQ as a “miracle drug” that can cure COVID-19 has reduced significantly over the past week. Let us explore why…
Right from calling a “phenomenal thing” to a “game-changer” in the cure for the deadly COVID-19, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly praised anti-malarial medication HCQ. Without any scientific backing or medical trials, Trump gave false hope to millions of Americans and people across the globe desperately awaiting some form of cure or protection from the deadly virus.
The drug is useful in treating conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. However, hydroxychloroquine can be dangerous for heart patients, says a Politico report. Trump has repeatedly claimed that HCQ was a “safe” cure for COVID-19 patients. But a CNN report begs to differ saying it is wrong to claim HCQ is safe for COVID-19 patients. Public health officials have said testing is still needed, and trials are underway.
Mixed messages from the White House
Despite being warned by the federal health authorities of possible side effects like serious cardiac complications, Trump continued to praise the drug with over-the-top rhetoric. Without understanding the damage he could be doing in the long run, he called it the biggest breakthrough in the history of medicine.
Watch: Trump’s praise of HCQ contrasts the cautious White House Health Experts
Not only did he advocate the use of HCQ, as per a Reuters report, Trump personally pressed federal health officials in mid-March to make hydroxychloroquine available to treat coronavirus. The FDA then gave hospitals emergency authorization to use the controversial drug on coronavirus patients or on trials.
Trump’s pressure tactics on India and birth of the global HCQ diplomacy
This frantic promotion of an unproven drug led to some diplomatic drama with India, the largest producer of hydroxychloroquine. India had earlier put a temporary export ban on the drug in order to meet the domestic demand.
Watch: Trump to India – Supply HCQ or face retaliation
However, Trump pressurized Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He threatened consequences if India did not release the needed stock to the US. As a result, India exported a major part of 29mn doses of hydroxychloroquine to avoid any diplomatic altercation. Trump quickly thanked PM Modi after a sudden change of heart after the bullying.
Constant praise led to drug shortage
With Trump constantly advertising the anti-malaria drug as the miracle cure for COVID-19, people and hospitals started stocking them. As a result, people who did need it, ones suffering from lupus or arthritis, found it hard to get HCQ.
Local pharmacies have run out of the drugs. This led to desperate patients ordering online from abroad or taking it from others. Talking about the shortage of the drugs, a CNN report says that scarcity led to a fledgling HCQ black market with pills being sold for as much as $43 each as against its normal price of $1.
Why is Trump silent now?
After weeks of promoting the drug. After several urges to Americans to try HCQ as they are “safe” and “there is nothing to lose,” Trump has now stopped the hype. A French study proved that the drug did not help COVID-19 patients. Likewise, a Brazilian trial was stopped midway when it led to cardiac complications.
Watch: Trump grilled over the continued promotion of HCQ
As a result, Trump has stopped talking about the drug since April 13. Contrary to Trump’s advice, a CNN report says that a study at US veterans hospitals found that HCQ might lead to a higher death rate among COVID-19 patients. As a result, Trump and his supporters have stopped hyping HCQ as a potential cure for the COVID-19.
Trump stopped hyping HCQ as a potential cure for COVID-19 after studies pointing to adverse effects instead of cure
Not only has Trump stopped talking about HCQ in daily briefings, but he has also stopped tweeting praise. The only mention was when he retweeted a story by Judicial Watch – “Trump’s bold gamble on hydroxychloroquine (HC) appears to be paying off.”
It seems Trump’s decision to stop talking about hydroxychloroquine represents a break from his past approach. Nevertheless, he continues to amplify untested methods, spreading misinformation with a mission to gain the confidence of the American public.