Nancy Pelosi has led a chorus of surprise and alarm after Donald Trump said he was taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus.
Trump’s own government has warned that the drug should only be administered for Covid-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.
The US House Speaker did not mince her words when she was asked on CNN about the president’s decision.
“He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say, weight group … morbidly obese, they say,” she said.
Trump is 73. At his last full checkup in February 2019 he passed the official threshold for being considered obese, with a Body Mass Index of 30.4.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI of 40 or above is considered “severe” obesity, which some also call “morbid” obesity.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called Trump’s remarks about hydroxychloroquine “dangerous.
“Maybe he’s really not taking it because the president lies about things characteristically,” Schumer said on MSNBC.
He added: “I don’t know whether he is taking it or not. I know him saying he is taking it, whether he is or not, is reckless, reckless, reckless.”
The revelation was also noted in China.
Hu Xijin, editor of Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times, said Trump was leading the US response to the pandemic with “witchcraft.”
Trump has spent weeks pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure or prophylaxis for Covid-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals.
The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the new coronavirus.
Several prominent doctors said they worried that people would infer from Trump’s example that the drug works or is safe.
“There is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective for the treatment or the prevention of Covid-19,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association. “The results to date are not promising.”
People should not infer from Trump’s example “that it’s an approved approach or proven,” because it’s not, said Dr David Aronoff, infectious diseases chief at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.