At a Saturday press conference, U.S. President Donald Trumps said people with lupus may be less … [+]
Topline: President Donald Trump sparked confusion Saturday by claiming a study suggested that people with the autoimmune disease lupus were not as affected by coronavirus—presumably because they commonly use the drug hydroxychloroquine—but then immediately backtracked, saying “maybe that’s correct, maybe it’s false, you’re going to have to check it out,” and his own medical advisor downplayed any connection.
- Trump said Saturday that hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat lupus, “could be a game changer” in treating coronavirus, which so far has no known cure.
- Hydroxychloroquine is a derivative of an anti-malaria drug called chloroquine and is effective in treating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
- Trump seemed to infer that people with lupus were not becoming infected with coronavirus because they were already taking hydroxychloroquine for lupus.
- There appears to be no evidence to back up that claim—in fact, according to The Lupus Foundation of America, people with lupus are more vulnerable to infections like coronavirus.
- At the same press conference, White House health advisor Anthony Fauci said that while the connection between lupus and coronavirus is being looked at, “we don’t have any definitive information to be able to make any comment about that.”
- Trump stepped in to say he hopes hydroxychloroquine will be used, because it’s been “used for a long time” and that people are “in bad shape” and “what do [they] have to lose?” he asked.
Key background: Trump has made statements about the possibilities of hydroxychloroquine before—including falsely claiming that the FDA had approved the drugs for treatment—and just as recently as Friday Fauci warned that Americans shouldn’t assume hydroxychloroquine is a “knockout drug” when it comes to coronavirus, saying more studies need to be done. The first substantial clinical trial focused on hydroxychloroquine as treatment for coronavirus began in New York last week after receiving fast-track approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The CDC warns against taking nonpharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate without a prescription and the supervision of a healthcare provider because it “can cause serious health consequences, including death.” Confusion over the drug has led some Americans to seek unofficial substitutes, such as an Arizona man who bought a common chemical used to clean fish tanks, which killed him and landed his now-widow in intensive care.
Further reading: FDA Approves Anti-Malarial Drugs Chloroquine And Hydroxychloroquine For Emergency Coronavirus Treatment (Forbes)