May 31, 2020 - World

U.S. sends Brazil 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1,000 ventilators

Trump and Bolsonaro
President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well as the South American country becomes the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: The situation in Brazil, which has reported over 498,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 28,000 deaths, is threatening to spiral out of control as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro faces mounting criticism for downplaying the severity of the virus.

  • Brazil reported a record 33,274 new cases on Saturday as its death toll surpassed France's, ranking fourth in the world behind the U.S., U.K. and Italy.
  • Trump last week suspended entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil within the past 14 days.

Between the lines: Hydroxychloroquine has become a point of heated political debate in President Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak, as he first touted the drug as a potential "game-changer" and said he was taking it himself as a preventative.

  • But a large study in The Lancet found an increased risk of heart problems and death among coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine, prompting France to ban use of the drug and the World Health Organization to temporarily suspend a trial.
  • Anthony Fauci told CNN last week that the scientific data "is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy" of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

What they're saying: The White House said in a statement that the drug will "be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil's nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals against the virus."

  • "It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected," the statement adds.
  • "With [Trump] and President Jair Bolsonaro having spoken twice since March, the two countries are well-positioned to continue their work together to address the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to other matters of strategic importance."
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