“What do you have to lose?” President Donald Trump asked reporters last week while, once again, promoting the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment.
It turns out, as experts have repeatedly warned, a whole lot.
A new Lancet study released on Friday and first reported by the Washington Post revealed that taking hydroxychloroquine to combat COVID-19 was connected to a significantly increased chance of death. The study, which examined 96,032 patients and is the largest to investigate the antimalarial drug’s potential in fighting the virus, had even more alarming news for taking hydroxychloroquine with an antibiotic, the combination once touted by Trump as a “gamechanger” in the fight against coronavirus. “For those receiving hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic—the cocktail endorsed by Trump—there was a 45 percent increased risk of death and a 411 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias,” the Post reported. The study doesn’t necessarily extend to those taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure, as Trump claimed this week to be doing.
The astounding findings come on the heels of a study published last month that reported more deaths among US veterans treated with hydroxychloroquine than those who received standard care. Trump initially claimed that he hadn’t seen the veterans’ study—a curious assertion considering his aggressive campaign to promote the drug—but then on Tuesday accused the medical researchers of political motivation. “That was a false study done,” he said at a White House event. “It was given by obviously not friends of the administration.”
The president has not yet offered a conspiratorial angle with which to discredit the Lancet study, but something tells me that’s inevitable.