Should Trump have publicly announced he's taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure for COVID-19?


Fact Box

  • Hydroxychloroquine was invented in the 1940’s as a treatment for malaria, but in more recent times has been used to treat inflammation for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers [1]. 
  • A 2014 study found that prescription drugs, whether taken correctly or incorrectly, are the third-leading cause of death in the United States and Europe [2]. 
  • Elon Musk was the first public figure to mention the connection between hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 [3]. 
  • An April 30th survey by YouGov found that four out of ten Americans who have heard of hydroxychloroquine believe that it could possibly be an effective treatment for the coronavirus [4]. 

Stephanie (Yes)

President Donald Trump showed bravery in publicly announcing that he is currently taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment for COVID-19 [1]. It was a bold move that has already received criticism [2], and while there may be risks to doing so, there are several positive takeaways to reflect upon.

His admission to taking the malaria drug is yet another example of his openness with not only the American people, but also with the rest of the world [3].

President Trump acknowledging that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine further proves that he is certainly not a hypocrite about his attitude towards the potential drug treatment. If anything, he is actively demonstrating that he would not consider anything for the American people that he would deem inappropriate for himself. In this way, it can even be said that he has made himself a human guinea pig in experimenting with what his reaction to the drug will be and if he contracts COVID-19.

In 2018, President Trump signed the “Right-to-Try” bill into law, allowing terminally ill patients the opportunity to try experimental drugs to save or prolong their lives [4]. Although he does not have a terminal illness, President Trump taking hydroxychloroquine demonstrates that he fully stands behind the right-to-try philosophy. 

Also important to note is that President Trump is not directly suggesting that the American people take hydroxychloroquine. Rather, he is merely sharing his own experience with it, along with his thoughts about calculated risk [5]. Considering that President Trump is a known germaphobe [6], one can only assume that he has high regard for his health and is a suitable candidate to discuss matters regarding experimental treatment. 

Elizabeth (No)

Regardless of one’s feelings about Trump, it was a mistake for him to make a public announcement regarding taking hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of COVID-19. Given the individual nature of the physical response to any medication, it is outside the scope of responsible governing for a politician essentially to advocate for a particular method of treatment. Some are arguing that, having spoken with his personal physician, Trump is being responsible in his regimen. There is, however, nothing to support that this approach would be beneficial for anyone else, let alone the general population [1].  

As we all know, not everyone has easy access to a skilled physician, but upwards of 90% of us have access to the internet [2]. It’s not folly to imagine there will be those who read what Trump is doing and interpret that as the best course of action for themselves as well--a move which could bring disastrous side effects for some [3]. Hydroxychloroquine, while apparently highly effective for malaria and some autoimmune diseases, can cause volatile reactions and, occasionally death, for others [4]. It’s also available over the internet--albeit with a prescription [5]. So not only can it potentially kill people, but it will also be less available for those who have conditions which it has proven to help [6]. 

Some skeptics believe the President isn’t actually taking hydroxychloroquine, but is instead lauding it as a means to boost a company he has ties with [7]. While that seems a far-fetched claim, there appears to be little evidence to support his choice of taking the medication. Because of this, he should have kept that information to himself. 

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