Earlier this month, Donald Trump bragged to reporters during a tour of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, telling them he has a “natural ability” to understand medicine and science. And it’s pretty clear that he actually believes that’s true—that he has some innate scientific intelligence that allows him to disregard the advice of health experts and medical professionals.
Apparently the 10 years I spent getting a bachelors, masters, and PhD plus the 5 years as a postdoc are no match for Trump’s “natural ability.” https://t.co/lz1wD2JcnG
— Dr. John Biggan (@Biggan4Congress) March 6, 2020
But just because Trump thinks he’s a scientific savant, that absolutely does not make him one and it’s legitimately dangerous for him to pretend otherwise.
Please do not take medical advice from a man who looked directly at a solar eclipse.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 24, 2020
Recently, Trump has been talking a lot about finding a cure for the coronavirus, specifically focusing on the potential of two drugs called chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are used to treat malaria, lupus, and other conditions. Trump touted the drugs in press briefings as well as on Twitter, calling them “game changers.”
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents)…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2020
“The nice part is,” Trump said last week, “it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.” Except then it did. (Sort of.)
Trump recently tweeted a link to an article about a man who says his life was saved after he took one of the drugs, trusting Trump’s advice over his doctors’.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
He seems to be ignoring the story of another man who died after taking Trump’s advice. The Banner Health medical group in Arizona has posted on their website about a couple who attempted to self-medicate with chloroquine phosphate, which Banner describes as “an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks” but which has the same name as one of the drugs being tested as one of the potential treatments for the coronavirus, according to a study cited by the CDC and Trump in one of his press briefings.
“Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital,” the group’s post reads. One of the two has died and his wife is under critical care.
👉Her husband is dead & she’s in the ICU after ingesting chloroquine:
“We saw Trump on TV — every channel — & all of his buddies and that this was safe,” she said.
“Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.”
— Heidi Przybyla (@HeidiNBC) March 23, 2020
While this couple made a tragic mistake by ingesting straight poison instead of the actual medication, it’s a clear example of why Trump shouldn’t be using Twitter to offer medical advice that he is 100% unqualified to give in the first place.
Even beyond this case in Arizona, Trump’s recommendation of the drugs is having a disastrous effect on those who need them for existing conditions. With so many people finding ways to acquire the drug either to self-medicate or stock up “just in case,” those who already rely on it are finding it in short supply.
Well it finally happened to me.
A dentist just tried to call in scripts for hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin for himself, his wife, & another couple (friends).
I have patients with lupus that have been on HCQ for YEARS and now can’t get it because it’s on backorder.
— Katherine Rowland (@DRxKatherine) March 22, 2020
🚨I take Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) 2x daily.
People like me: MILLIONS of Americans w/auto-immune & Lupus DEPEND on this medication.
What will happen to US, if there is a shortage?
I’ve heard from people who can’t refill it.
Why is the MEDIA not covering this?
— Peter Morley (@morethanmySLE) March 23, 2020
My wife takes Plaquenil for lupus and arthritis. She called Walgreens after this tweet. She was told that there is now none left in their system. Doctors are calling it in for their families and the run on the medication will now make it impossible to get for those with need.
— David Gunter (@dagmit77) March 21, 2020
It would be absolutely amazing if this (or another) drug ends up being an effective treatment for COVID-19. But in the meantime, hoarding it won’t help anyone, but it does have the potential to hurt a lot of people.
(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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