United States President Donald Trump has again defended the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent the coronavirus, contradicting his own public health officials.
He argued that the antimalarial drug was only rejected as a Covid-19 treatment because he had suggested it.
His comments come after Twitter banned his oldest son for posting a clip promoting hydroxychloroquine.
There is no evidence that the drug can fight the virus, and regulators warn that it can cause heart problems.
Last month, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against using the drug to treat the coronavirus, after reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” and other health problems.
The FDA also revoked its emergency use authorization for the drug to treat Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that “there is currently no evidence” that it is effective as a treatment or that it prevents Covid-19.
Studies commissioned by WHO, the US National Institutes of Health, and other medical researchers around the world have found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine, when used with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, as repeatedly recommended by the president Trump, help treat the coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine was first promoted by Trump in March regarding Covid-19.
The president told reporters at the White House on Tuesday: “When I recommend something, they like to say ‘don’t use it.'”
Trump, 74, surprised reporters in May by saying he had started taking the unproven medication.
On Tuesday, he said: “I can only say that from my point of view, and based on a lot of reading and a lot of knowledge about it, I think it could have a very positive impact in the early stages.”
“I don’t think you lose anything by doing it, other than politically it doesn’t seem too popular.”
President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr were among social media users who shared video Monday night of a group called Frontline Doctors of the United States who advocate hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment.
Facebook and Twitter removed the content, marking it as misinformation, but not before more than 17 million people had seen one of the clips.
Twitter also banned the oldest son of the US President from tweeting for 12 hours as a penalty for sharing the clip.
The video in question showed doctors speaking outside the US Supreme Court at an event organized by Tea Party Patriots Action, a group that is not required to disclose to its donors and has helped fund a political action committee pro Trump.
In the video, Dr. Stella Immanuel, a Houston physician, says that she has successfully treated 350 patients with coronavirus “and that she has” hydroxychloroquine.
The president said Tuesday: “I think they are highly respected doctors. There was one woman who was spectacular in her statements on the matter.”
According to the Daily Beast, Dr. Immanuel previously stated that the government is run by “reptilians” and that scientists are developing a vaccine to prevent people from being religious, among other strange views.
United States Frontline Doctors founder Simone Gold accused social media companies of censorship for removing the hydroxychloroquine video.
“Treatment options for COVID-19 should be discussed and discussed among our colleagues in the medical field,” he tweeted. “However, they should never be censored and silenced.”
Late Monday, Trump also retweeted several critical tweets with Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force.
But in Tuesday’s briefing, the president denied criticizing the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, insisting: “I get along very well with him.”
When asked about hydroxychloroquine earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Fauci said the drug was not an appropriate treatment for Covid-19.
He told the ABC News morning show that the drug “was not effective in coronavirus disease.”
At Tuesday’s briefing, Trump questioned why White House coronavirus expert and fellow task force member Dr. Deborah Birx were popular, but her administration was not.
He said: “And yet they are very well thought out but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”
The United States now has more than 4.3 million reported cases of Covid-19, and more than 149,000 deaths.