Donald Trump is speaking about hydroxychloroquine again as a result of …

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US President Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings are back, and at today’s edition, he was back to talking about hydroxychloroquine.

The drug, an early candidate for a treatment for the coronavirus, has been sidelined after studies found limited evidence it was effective and concerns that it could cause serious heart problems.

About Donald
Donald is a masculine given name derived from the Gaelic name Dòmhnall. This comes from the Proto-Celtic Dumno-ualos (“world-ruler” or “world-wielder”). Domhnall, an Irish King of Aileach and descendant of Niall Noígíallach, was the origin of the modern surname Donnelly. The final -d in Donald is partly derived from a misinterpretation of the Gaelic pronunciation by English speakers, and partly associated with the spelling of similar-sounding Germanic names, such as Ronald. A short form of Donald is Don. Pet forms of Donald include Donnie and Donny. The feminine given name Donella is derived from Donald.Donald has cognates in other Celtic languages: Modern Irish Dónal (anglicised as Donal and Donall); Scottish Gaelic Dòmhnall, Domhnull and Dòmhnull; Welsh Dyfnwal and Cumbric Dumnagual. Although the feminine given name Donna is sometimes used as a feminine form of Donald, the names are not etymologically related.

Donald Trump is talking about hydroxychloroquine again because of …

About talking
Talking may refer to:

Speech, the product of the action of to talk
Communication by spoken words; conversation or discussion.

The World Health Organization suspended trials of the drug in May.

So why was the President publicly praising it today? It’s all to do with a viral video.

Donald Trump is talking about hydroxychloroquine again because of …

For the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic follow our live updates.

What’s the deal with the video?

Yesterday, a video of a small group of doctors at an event in Washington DC went viral across Facebook and Twitter after being promoted by conservative media outlets and pundits, including the President’s son, who called it a “must watch!!!” on Twitter.

In it, the group claims (against all available scientific evidence) that Americans don’t need to wear masks. They say hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for COVID-19, but that it is being suppressed by the US Government.

A screengrab of Stella Immanue from a video removed from social media for spreading false information about COVID-19.
Stella Immanuel was one of the doctors featured prominently in the viral video.(ABC News)

The video directly contradicts advice from Trump’s own medical experts, who have urged Americans to slow the spread of the virus by wearing masks, and who have cautioned against using hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus.

Trump also encouraged Americans to wear masks for the first time last week.

On a late-night Twitter spree, Trump shared several versions of the video, as well as other tweets claiming his top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci had “misled the American public”.

After the original video racked up millions of views, Facebook and Twitter removed it. They confirmed they were still working to take down others.

Both said the video was taken down because it shared false information about COVID-19.

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YouTube also said it had removed the video from its site.

Twitter said it limited Donald Trump Jr’s ability to tweet for 12 hours because he shared the video, violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy.

What did Trump say about it?

President Donald Trump speaks from behind a podium during a news conference, while reporters hold their hands up
Trump was questioned about sharing the video at his daily coronavirus briefing.(AP: Evan Vucci)

At his daily coronavirus briefing, Trump claimed he wasn’t endorsing the videos by sharing them, but said he believed hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for coronavirus because he had taken it with no issue.

“It’s safe. It doesn’t cause problems. I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem, felt no different. Didn’t feel good, bad or indifferent. And I tested, as you know, it didn’t, it didn’t get me. And it’s not going to hopefully hurt anybody. So we know from that sample because it’s been so many years from a safety standpoint, it’s safe. I happen to think, based on what I’ve read, I’ve read a lot about hydroxy. I happen to think that it has an impact, especially at the early years,” he said.

He said he believed the drug had become politicised because he had been taking it.

“I don’t think you lose anything by doing it other than politically, it doesn’t seem to be too popular. You know why? Because I recommend it. When I recommend something they like to say don’t use it,” he said.

The President also praised the doctors in the viral video:

“I think they’re very respected doctors. There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it, that she’s had tremendous success with it. And they took her, they took her voice off. I don’t know why they took her off, but they took her off. Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe they didn’t. I don’t know.”

Read more about coronavirus:

What do we know about the doctors?

The group behind the video is known as “America’s Frontline Doctors” and was registered two weeks ago.

While Trump didn’t name her directly, one of the most prominent women in the video is Stella Immanuel.

She has a long history of pushing conspiracy theories, including:

  • that gynaecological issues are the result of having sex with witches and demons
  • that DNA from space aliens is being used in medicine
  • that the American Government is run by “half-human” people with a “reptilian spirit”
  • that scientists are working on a vaccine to stop people from becoming religious

In a tweet sharing coverage of her views, Immanuel asked followers to contact her for “deliverance from these spirits”.

A screengrab of a tweet from Stella Immanuel promoting deliverance from these spirits.
Stella Immanuel has embraced reporting on conspiracy theories she’s shared.(@stella_immanuel)

Immanuel received her medical degree in Nigeria. Ndukwe Emmanuel Ifeanyi, a national committee member of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, told the Washington Post that the “fake news” she was spreading would hurt real people.

Asked about Immanuel’s views after he called her “very respected”, Trump said:

“She was on air with many other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine and I thought she was very impressive in the sense that, from where she came, I don’t know which country she comes from. But she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients and I thought her voice was an important voice but I know nothing about her.”

Trump began to take another question afterwards, but then abruptly ended the briefing.

What do we know about hydroxychloroquine?

It’s a decades-old drug that can cause heart-rhythm problems, severely low blood pressure and muscle or nerve damage, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Until now it has been prescribed to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

What we know about hydroxychloroquine

Man with two hands up and angry look on his face

Mostly prescribed to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, the drug has also been used for years to dampen the immune system in people with autoimmune conditions.

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Multiple studies from the US, France and China have concluded that hydroxychloroquine is not effective for treating COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) suspended its trials of the drug to treat coronavirus after saying it received nearly 390 reports of complications, including more than 100 cases involving serious heart problems.

Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), said he was fired in April for resisting Mr Trump’s push to use hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

What you need to know about coronavirus:

ABC/wires