US President Donald Trump explains why he has been taking a controversial anti-malarial drug. Image: YouTube

President Donald Trump on Monday made the surprising revelation that he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that his own government experts say is not suitable for fighting the novel coronavirus.

Trump, noting that he has tested negative for the virus and shows no symptoms, said he’d been taking the drug “for about a week and a half.”

“I take a pill every day,” he said, adding that he also takes zinc as a preventative measure.

Asked why, he said “because I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”

Trump has often played down the dangers of coronavirus, including last week when he said it threatened only a small number of people. He has also pointedly refused to wear a mask, despite federal recommendations and the fact that most of his staff have taken to covering their faces in public.

By contrast, he has shown interest for weeks in promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine, even if many doctors think it does not work for coronavirus patients and US government regulators warn it has “not been shown to be safe.”

Trump’s extensive remarks about his use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure came out of the blue.

“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers before you catch it. The front-line workers — many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it, I happen to be taking it,” Trump let slip to reporters attending a White House meeting devoted to the struggling restaurant industry.

“I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine, right now, yeah. A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it,” he said.

Trump said the use of the medicine was approved by the White House physician. However, he insisted that he, not the doctor, took the first step.

“I asked him, what do you think? He said if you’d like it. I said yeah, I’d like it.”

“It seems to have an impact, and maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t but if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick or die,” Trump said. “I take a pill every day. At some point I’ll stop.”

Why Trump is taking the disputed remedy when he frequently insists he is in no danger from COVID-19, is not clear.

Some people in the White House have tested positive for the virus. But Trump said again Monday he said he showed “zero symptoms.”

“Every couple days they want to test me, you know, for obvious reasons. I mean I am the president, so they want to test me. I don’t want to be tested but they want to test me,” he said. “I’ve shown always negative.”

WHO ‘is Chinese puppet’

Meanwhile, Trump attacked the United Nations health body as a Chinese “puppet” on Monday and confirmed he is considering slashing or canceling US support.

“They’re a puppet of China, they’re China-centric to put it nicer,” he said at the White House.

Trump said the United States pays around $450 million annually to the World Health Organization (WHO), the largest contribution of any country. Plans are being crafted to slash this because “we’re not treated right.”

“They gave us a lot of bad advice,” he said of the WHO.

Trump spoke as the WHO held its first annual assembly since the pandemic swept the world after originating in China, causing massive economic disruption and killing 316,000 people – close to a third of them in the United States.

Trump said China only pays about $40 million a year and one idea was for Washington to bring “our 450 down to 40,” but “some people thought that was too much.”

– AFP

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