Anti-malaria drug endorsed by Trump against coronavirus could cause diarrhea, Chinese research shows

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/19 12:43:25

US President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Chinese researchers recently released results of the first clinical trial for hydroxychloroquine against novel coronavirus, the drug that US President Donald Trump claimed that he is taking, showing that when used for coronavirus treatment, it could cause an adverse digestive reaction, such as diarrhea.

Using hydroxychloroquine for mild and moderate coronavirus-infected patients is not encouraged, as patients can show symptoms of digestive diseases, such as diarrhea, sickness and vomiting, Chinese researchers from Shanghai Ruijin Hospital announced on Monday.  

Despite being unproven in its effectiveness against coronavirus, Trump said on Monday that he has been taking the drug for over a week to prevent being infected with the coronavirus, which soon started trending on Twitter and Chinese social media Sina Weibo. 

Netizens swarmed to social media, expressing their shock over what Trump said, with many people suspecting the president is lying. 

"Why is he pushing a drug that can cause hallucinations and heart failure?" Netizens commented on Twitter with the trending hashtag #he'slying. 

"It's time to show Trump's capability for selling products online!" some Chinese netizens commented on Weibo. "Is it worth promoting the drug at the risk of his life?" said another popular comment by Chinese netizens. 

Previously, Chinese netizens mocked Trump for being "the biggest endorser for 'livestreamed' online disinfectant sales," after he suggested injecting disinfectants to treat the novel coronavirus. 

Cases of misuse of disinfectants were frequently reported by media after his remarks, and many netizens expressed concerns that if people followed his bizarre claim, it may cause more deaths.  

Trump is only trying to attract attention by frequently  promoting products such as the drug in his speeches, and the possibility cannot be ruled out that he has some financial interest in it, which suits his personality of being a businessman, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. "It's a misfortune for Americans, who are already facing a high unemployment rate, economic recession and a severe epidemic, that there is such a president."

A New York Times report had said Trump has a "small personal financial interest" in the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. 

Chinese experts said Trump's remarks reveal his disdain for professionals and expertise, and also prove his administration's handling of the epidemic was not based on science.

The results of the world's first multi-center research on the anti-malaria drug for coronavirus treatment by the Ruijin hospital were first published in the British Medical Journal on May 14.

The research was based on a total of 150 admitted confirmed patients. One group of 75 people were initially given a daily dosage of 1,200 milligrams of hydroxychloroquine for three days and later 800 milligrams every day for two weeks. Another group of 75 were given no drugs but only standard care. 

"There were no significant differences between the two groups," Xie Qing, director of the infectious disease department at the Ruijin hospital said at a seminar on Monday, news site the reported.  

Apart from some adverse effects, no severe reactions were seen in either group of patients, the researcher said.

Newspaper headline: Anti-malaria drug taken by Trump could cause diarrhea, research shows


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