Joe Biden expressed astonishment on Tuesday night that President Donald Trump would decide to start using an untested and potentially dangerous anti-malarial drug the president believes might ward off the coronavirus.
Speaking during a Yahoo News virtual town hall meeting about the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity, Biden voiced his concerns about the Trump's taking hydroxychloroquine and promoting its use to combat the coronavirus.
“It’s like saying maybe if you inject Clorox into your blood it may cure you,” Biden, 77, said, referencing Trump's past idea about injecting bleach into the body to cure the virus. “C’mon, man! What is he doing? What in God’s name is he doing?”
Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee who will likely run against Trump in the November election, expressed concern that Trump didn't fully understand the power of the presidency.
"The things that president say and the words of a president matter,” the former vice president said.
Health experts have warned about the potential danger of taking hydroxychloroquine to avoid contracting the COVID-19 respiratory illness. Despite their warnings, Trump has repeatedly championed the use of the unproven drug and shocked reporters when he announced Monday that he's been taking a dose every day for the last week and a half.
"I happen to be taking it," Trump, 73, told reporters and added that "if it is not good, I will tell you right."
Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Tuesday that he was not taking the drug.
Early research indicates the misuse of the drug can lead to heart failure and an increased risk of mortality.
A recent study from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that COVID-19 patients who took the drug died at a higher rate than those who did not. The study's authors said that more research into the drug is still needed but their results indicate that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment and should not be used on COVID-19 patients.
“An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone,” the authors wrote. “These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs.”
There have been at least 91,900 deaths in the U.S. linked to the coronavirus outbreak, while the New York Times reports more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 illness have been reported across the country.
While pushing for the U.S. economy to reopen as soon as possible, President Trump has also floated his own outlandish medical ideas to find a cure for the virus.
"I'm not a doctor," Trump told reporters during an April 23 press conference, after suggesting his federal health officials might want to look into the idea of injecting heat and disinfectants, such as bleach, into the human body to kill the virus.
The president's viral — and widely shunned — suggestions have been slammed by medical professionals and other politicians as dangerous, given his massive public profile as the president of the United States.
Biden blasted Trump's latest medical decision as "absolutely irresponsible."
“There’s no serious medical person out there saying to use that drug," Biden said. "It’s counterproductive. It’s not going to help, but the president, he decided that’s an answer. So, what do you think people are going to be doing? You think they're not going to use it? Look at the studies that have been done. It does much more harm than good. This is totally irresponsible. Totally irresponsible."
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