The last thing Democrats need is a drug that Americans could use as a prophylactic against coronavirus.
They are running on the pandemic death toll of 92,000, 1.5 million infected Americans and high unemployment driven by stay-at-home orders. The more catastrophe that mounts for voters, the greater their chances of winning the White House.
No wonder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went over the edge when President Donald Trump said Monday he has been taking hydroxychloroquine daily for over a week to prevent infection from the virus.
He told the horrified White House press pool that he asked his White House physician about the drug and was taking it under his supervision.
“I asked him, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘Well, if you’d like it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it.’”
Critics immediately blasted Trump for promoting the anti-malaria drug, pointing to anecdotal studies that claim it is ineffective at treating or preventing the virus. They attacked the doctors who support the president by pointing out the 65-year-old safety profile of hydroxychloroquine.
Millions of Americans are now aware of a drug that could offer some protection against a life-threatening virus as the world waits for a vaccine, thanks to Trump.
The announcement rankled Pelosi, who took shots at the president while visiting Congress on Tuesday, suggesting the drug might not be safe for him to take because of his weight.
The president was asked by reporters to respond to her loco lamentations as he left a lunch meeting with congressional Republicans. “I don’t respond to her, I think she’s a waste of time,” he said.
“These people are sick. Pelosi is a sick woman, she’s got a lot of problems, a lot of mental problems,” he said. “We’re dealing with people that have to get their act together for the good of the country.”
Trump also defended his decision to take hydroxychloroquine: “I think it gives you an additional level of safety,” Trump said, calling it “an individual decision to make.”
“It’s had a great reputation, and if it were somebody else other than me, people would say, ‘Gee isn’t that smart?’” Trump said.
Data compiled by Statistica on Wednesday revealed that US deaths are lower per million than eight European countries when measured against the population of around 328 million, thanks to the president’s leadership.
For every 1 million residents, 280 have died from the virus in the US which is 0.028% of the population. It is dramatically lower than Belgium where 797 per 1 million have died (0.08% of the population), and Spain, where 594 per 1 million have died (0.06%).
Italy and the UK had the third and fourth highest death rates. In Italy, 0.05% of the population died and in the UK, the death rate is 0.053%.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that taking hydroxychloroquine is “ultimately” a choice between patients and their health care providers.
“The decision to take any drug is ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already FDA-approved for treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.