It’s not just President Trump who’s been taking it.
Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s 38-year-old head of state, said Tuesday that he, too, has been under a regimen for hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug controversially promoted by his U.S. counterpart as a way to ward off the coronavirus.
“I use it as a prophylaxis, President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis, most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” Bukele said, according to Reuters.
But as The Washington Post has reported, there is a lack of evidence that the drug can prevent infections, and physicians have warned that it can have deadly side effects.
Trump said over the weekend that he had ended his “two-week course” of the drug, though he continued to say hydroxychloroquine has received “tremendous, rave reviews.”
“I believe in it enough that I took a program because I had two people in the White House that tested positive,” he said. “And by the way, I’m still here … To the best of my knowledge, here I am.”
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization temporarily halted its global trial of the anti-malarial. A new study, the body said, found a significantly higher risk of death among those taking the drug or a closely related compound.
El Salvador has stopped promoting the anti-malarial as a treatment. But Bukele said Salvadorans could still choose to take it for preventive reasons.
First elected about a year ago, Bukele has responded to the pandemic with forceful actions that many say have shown authoritarian tendencies.
After ordering an early and aggressive quarantine, his administration released photos of mask-less inmates jammed together on prison floors. Last week, he moved to extend a national state of emergency without congressional approval.