Trump on Hydroxychloroquine: ‘The Side Effects Are the Least of It’

By Melanie Arter | April 7, 2020 | 8:17pm EDT
(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Any possible side effects from the use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloriquine are nothing compared to possible death from COVID-19 and are most likely from the use of the antibiotic azithromycin, commonly referred to as the “Z pack,” which has been used in conjunction with the anti-malaria drug to fight the coronavirus, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.

At the White House press briefing, the president also pointed to the testimony of Michigan State Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Democratic lawmaker from Detroit, who praised the president for suggesting the use of hydroxychloriquine, which she said was instrumental in her recovery.

“With millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine donated, is there a plan or system in place to track the potential side effects?” a reporter asked.

“You saw the representative. The side effects? The side effects are the least of it. You have people dying all over the place. Generally the side effects are really with the Z pack, having to do with the heart, the Z pack. That’s the antibiotic, not with the hydroxychloroquine,” Trump said.

“A woman last night, I watched her on one of the shows, good show, Laura, and she was -- she thought she was dead. She was a representative from Michigan. She was just in horrible shape for 12 days, 14 days. She thought she was dead. I think she said that her doctor said it's going to be very tough. She saw me talking about this and she asked her husband to go to the drugstore,” he said.

“This is a Democrat representative, a person that you know perhaps wouldn't be voting for me. I think she will be voting for me now even if she's a Democrat, even if she's a Democrat representative, and they went to the store - which I made available - because we have millions of doses. We have I think 29 million doses of this drug, and she asked her husband, she said, ‘please go out. I'm not going to make it.’ You have to hear her story. ‘Please go out, get it,’” the president said. 

“He went at 10:00 in the evening to the drugstore. He got it. He gave it to her. I don't say it works like this at all. Four hours later, she awoke, and she said, I feel better,’ and then shortly thereafter she felt great. This is a woman who thought she was going to die. She's a Democrat representative, highly respected woman, African-American woman. I don’t know if you saw - those of you who asked the question about African-Americans,” he said.

“She was an African-American woman, a great woman. Her manner of speaking, the way she told the story was beautiful. I asked my husband to go get it. He got it. She is now okay. I mean, she was interviewed last night on television, and she thanked me. She thanked me even in a tweet. She said, ‘I want to thank President Trump. He saved my life.’ Look, I don't say that happens with everybody, but that's a beautiful story. There are many of the stories, and I say try it. Please,” Trump said.

“If you’re in trouble, and you’re going to die, and you’re going to die---. You are not going to die from this pill. There could be some side effects, but the side effects is really more so from the Z pack,” the president said.

Trump said that doctors have to recommend the drug.

“I want doctors-- I’m not saying---  I’m not a doctor. I'm saying that we hear great results. Some people say, ‘Let's go to a laboratory. Let's test it for a couple years.’ We got people dying in this country and all over the world right now, not in a couple of years. They are dying. As we speak, people are dying, and I really think it's a great thing to try just based on what I know. Again, I'm not a doctor,” he said.

I say get a physician’s approval. They have physicians in these hospitals, great physicians, brave physicians. They also say it's good for the hospital workers to take them, that it keeps it away, keeps out of your system. I don't know, but there's a lot of good examples,” Trump said.

“You know, we have 1,500-case study going on in New York, and it's almost complete, so it'll be very interesting to see what happens. Go ahead. I appreciate that woman, she was great. You have to see it to believe it, the way she spoke. It was like a miracle. This was not a fan of mine but she’s a fan of mine now, and I’m very honored by it,” the president said.

“State Rep. Karen Whitsett, who learned Monday she has tested positive for COVID-19, said she started taking hydroxychloroquine on March 31, prescribed by her doctor, after both she and her husband sought treatment for a range of symptoms on March 18,” an April 6 Detroit Free Press article stated.

Whitset felt relief within two hours of taking the drug. She had shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes, “and what felt like a sinus infection.”

Whitsett said she was familiar with ‘the wonders’ of hydroxychloroquine from an earlier bout with Lyme disease, but does not believe she would have thought to ask for it, or her doctor would have prescribed it, had Trump not been touting it as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

Trump, at his daily coronavirus briefings, has repeatedly touted the drug in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin, despite criticism from health professionals that it is unproven and potentially dangerous. There have also been complaints that Trump's remarks have resulted in a shortage of the drug for those people who normally use it for its recommended purposes.

But Whitsett said Trump's comments helped in her case.

"It has a lot to do with the president ... bringing it up," Whitsett said. "He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority."

Asked whether she thinks Trump may have saved her life, Whitsett said: "Yes, I do," and "I do thank him for that."


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