President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is taking hydroxychloroquine every day to lessen symptoms should he contract COVID-19, despite a lack of scientific research proving the antimalarial drug effectively treats the novel coronavirus.

“A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it,” Trump said at a meeting of restaurant executives. He later added that he had taken it every day for a week and a half.

Trump has routinely promoted the drug, and pushed for the Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve it. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization and clinical trials are underway.

The president has touted hydroxychloroquine as safe, since it has been used for decades in treating malaria, as well as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis in more recent years. However, at least one study has shown that it may increase death rates in coronavirus patients.

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Medical professionals have cautioned people about its potential side effects and the dangers of self-medicating.

“Please note that chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine should only be prescribed by a specialist physician,” Dr. Ngozi Onuoha, MD, tweeted in March. “These are not medications for self-prescribing or self-medication.”

Onuoha went on to list the side effects which included abnormal heart rhythm, low blood pressure, depressed myocardial contractility, heart block, abnormal heartbeat; seizures, coma, and cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Trump said Monday that he had not been exposed to the virus, but was taking it preventatively, as some frontline responders who sent him letters were doing.

“Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it,” Trump said.

Trump did not specify to reporters why the White House physician supported the idea saying, “I asked him what do you think, he said, ‘Well if you’d like it.'”

“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 relative risks,” Conley wrote in a memo, noting that Trump has taken multiple tests for coronavirus and all have returned as negative.

Even if the drug does not work in treating coronavirus, Trump said: “if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick and die.”


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