With more 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 and 4 million confirmed cases in the United States, President Donald Trump continues to tout an unproven treatment for the coronavirus. While some treatments have been shown to improve survival or lessen the severity of the disease, leading infectious disease experts, doctors and virologists say it’s time to stop promoting one that hasn't: hydroxychloroquine.
"There is no reason to keep talking about hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19," Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease physician at Emory University School of Medicine, told NBC News. "It does not work for treatment or for prevention. I have no idea why there is still talk about it, but it’s wrong."
Numerous clinical trials have failed to show that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that has been approved to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, helps hospitalized patients. Other studies found the drug wasn’t helpful for patients with mild disease. After warning of possible dangerous side effects from misuse, the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for the drug, saying it’s unlikely to be effective against the virus.
Yet Trump, who says he took the drug in May, promoted the medication again this week during a briefing. "Many doctors think it is extremely successful, the hydroxychloroquine coupled with the zinc and perhaps the azithromycin."