Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump for taking hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that some have claimed may treat the novel coronavirus despite a lack of scientific evidence, calling the move “totally irresponsible”.
The presumptive Democratic nominee compared Mr Trump’s decision to take the drug to previous comments the president made during a controversial White House press briefing, in which he appeared to suggest injecting disinfectants could serve as a potential treatment for Covid-19.
"It's like saying 'Maybe if you inject Clorox into your blood, it may cure you,'” Mr Biden quipped during a Yahoo News town hall on Wednesday. “C’mon, man! What is he doing? What in God’s name is he doing?”
He added: “There’s no serious medical person out there saying to use that drug.”
Mr Trump revealed earlier in the week he was taking the anti-malaria drug as part of an apparent effort to reduce his susceptibility to Covid-19.
During a televised Cabinet meeting at the White House on Monday, the president said he had been taking the drug for “a couple weeks” and pushed back against a new study from the Veterans Affairs administration that indicated hydroxychloroquine was not effective in treating coronavirus patients.
“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it,” he added. “The frontline workers, many, many are taking it.”
Sean Conley, the president’s physician, later released a statement confirming he prescribed Mr Trump the drug.
The statement read: “After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relevant risks.”
Despite the lack of clinical studies proving its effectiveness in treating Covid-19, reports indicated there was a surge in demand for the drug after the president began touting it as a potential treatment back in March, as the coronavirus pandemic caused much of the United States to shutdown.
Patients who use hydroxychloroquine to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, among other illnesses, were reportedly forced to search for alternatives as the drug flew off the shelves across the country. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later confirmed there was a shortage “due to a significant surge in demand” and added that manufacturers were ramping up production of hydroxychloroquine.
On Wednesday, Mr Biden called the president’s decision “counterproductive” and said: “It’s not going to help, but the president, he decided that’s an answer.”
“Look at the studies that have been done,” he continued. “It does much more harm than good. This is totally irresponsible.”
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