May 19, 2020 - Health

Trump dismisses FDA warnings about hydroxychloroquine

Asked about the FDA's warning about the use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients, Trump responded by attacking a non-peer reviewed study released last month that found an increased risk of death associated with patients who were only treated with the antimalarial drug — calling it a "false study."

Why it matters: The president, who revealed Monday he is taking the drug as a "line of defense" against the virus, referred to the study as a "Trump enemy statement." He did not address the FDA's warning that hydroxychloroquine appears to cause some serious and potentially life-threatening side effects in coronavirus patients.

Context: The study in question was not peer reviewed and retrospectively analyzed a very small pool of male veterans, with approval from Veterans Affairs.

  • The authors of the study stressed that their limited findings "highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs."

What they're saying: "No, that's not what I was told," Trump said in response to a question about the FDA warning. "There was a false study done where they gave it to very sick people, extremely sick people, people that were ready to die. It was given by obviously not friends of the administration, and the study came out, the people were ready to die, everybody was old, had bad problems with hearts, diabetes and everything else you can imagine."

  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie weighed in after and said, "That was not a VA study. Researchers took VA numbers and they did not clinically review them, they were not peer reviewed. They did not even look at what the president just mentioned — the various co-morbidities that the patients who were referenced in that study had."
  • He continued: "So I want to knock down the phony story that this is somehow the VA going back on what the president told us to do, which was to use every means possible to protect and preserve the lives of our veterans."

Go deeper: Stunned Fox News host reacts to Trump taking hydroxychloroquine

Go deeper

May 22, 2020 - Health

Update: Study linking hydroxychloroquine to increased death risk is retracted

Hydroxychloroquine. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Editor’s note: The study referenced in this story has been retracted by the medical journal The Lancet due to questions on the veracity of its primary data sources. Read more here.

Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

Why it matters: Despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, President Trump has insisted the anti-malarial drug as a "game-changer" and admitted he has taken it as a preventative even though the drug is unproven.

Updated 23 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East all recorded spikes in coronavirus infections Thursday as cases spread to new hot spots worldwide.

By the numbers: More than 6.5 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide and over 2.8 million have recovered from the virus. Over 387,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.8 million.

The long journey to herd immunity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The sought-after state of herd immunity — in which widespread outbreaks are prevented because enough people in a community are immune to a disease — is complicated by open questions about the effectiveness of a future vaccine and how COVID-19 spreads.

Why it matters: Unless a sufficient level of immunity is achieved in the population, the coronavirus could circulate indefinitely and potentially flare up as future outbreaks.