Media outlets rushed to denounce hydroxychloroquine after President Donald Trump revealed he was taking it as a prophylactic against the coronavirus. Pundits called the drug dangerous and ineffective based on selected studies.

“I’ve been taking it for about a week and a half now and I’m still here,” Trump said Monday during an event at the White House, adding he had heard good things about the drug from medical professionals.

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto immediately reacted by bringing up one long-documented side effect of the drug, used for decades to treat malaria and lupus.

‘I cannot stress this enough, this will kill you’: Fox News host Neil Cavuto was shocked by Trump’s announcement that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus

If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.

Cavuto proceeded to interview two physicians, quickly cutting off the one that said the drug “may be beneficial and potentially life-saving” for some patients, while allowing the other to argue that no one should take anything without consulting their personal doctor.

Neil Cavuto: It sounds like what you are saying, you have a risk of losing your life if you do what the president just recommended?Dr. Bob Lahita: That is correct.

One outlet after another – the Washington Post, Guardian, NowThis, etc – put front and center last month’s warning by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that no one should be taking HCQ without a prescription, citing the danger to people with heart problems.

The reaction mirrored media coverage from early April, when Trump first mentioned the possible benefits of the drug. There were conspiracy theories about his possible financial interest in the medication – which has been cheap and off-patent for years – and even an attempt to blame the president for a suspicious poisoning of a Nevada couple who ingested fish tank cleaner that contained a different chemical altogether.

Asked about evidence that the drug might be effective, Trump cited a letter from a doctor treating Covid-19 patients in New York state, as well as others. A Democrat state legislator from Detroit, Michigan also credited him for mentioning hydroxychloroquine, saying that it saved her life after she fell ill with Covid-19. Rep. Karen Whitsett went to the White House and said so in public at the end of April, earning herself a punishment from the party.

There has been no definitive proof of the drug’s effectiveness either way. Mainstream media have hyped an observational study at Veterans Affairs hospitals suggesting it does not help severely ill patients, while ignoring a study published by the National Institutes of Health in March showing that it does help treat pneumonia caused by Covid-19.

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