Trump had no side effects after taking hydroxychloroquine, White House doctor says

U.S. President Donald Trump deplanes from Air Force One as he returns to Washington after travel to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, May 27, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Donald Trump finished a regimen of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine “without side effects,” a White House doctor said Wednesday.

Trump, who revealed last month he was taking the drug to protect himself from contracting the coronavirus, completed his two-week regimen “safely,” White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said in a report on the president’s third physical exam while in office.

There is little definitive evidence proving hydroxychloroquine works either as an effective prophylactic or treatment for the coronavirus, though Trump has repeatedly touted its potential in the global efforts to combat the pandemic.

Numerous clinical trials are studying the efficacy of the drug on Covid-19. JAMA Network last month found that hydroxychloroquine appeared to not help Covid-19 patients and, instead, placed them at increased risk of cardiac arrest. A study published in late May in medical journal The Lancet found that hospitalized Covid-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine had a higher risk of death than those who didn’t take it. That study is now being reexamined.

The World Health Organization said Wednesday it was resuming a trial of the drug after temporarily halting research over safety concerns

Trump, who turns 74 this month, said on May 18 that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, along with zinc and an initial dose of azithromycin, or Z-Pak.

The president told reporters at the time that he started taking hydroxychloroquine because “I think it’s good, I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”

That evening, Conley released a memo saying he and Trump discussed the drug and concluded that “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.” 

In his report released Wednesday, Conley said that Trump “continues to receive regular COVID-19 testing, and to date all results have been negative.”

Conley noted that Trump began his regimen after two West Wing staffers were diagnosed with the coronavirus. One of those staffers included a personal valet for Trump, who among other things served meals to the president.

The memo said Trump took a two-week “course” of hydroxychloroquine alongside zinc and Vitamin D. The report makes no reference to Z-Pak, of which Trump said he took an “original dose.”

“Overall the president continues to benefit from a multi-disciplinary care team in assessing and promoting his health and wellness as he carries out the duties of the Presidency,” Conley said in the report.

The president’s lab results were broadly listed as “normal” by the physician. The memo says Trump is six feet, three inches tall and weighs 244 pounds.

Medical guidance from NBC News noted that Trump is obese and his blood pressure, while normal, puts him on the cusp of hypertension. 

The president “remains healthy,” Conley concluded in his report, which covered Trump’s physical exams between November and April.

Trump made a surprise trip to Walter Reed hospital in November, where he underwent what he called “phase one of my yearly physical.”

“Will complete next year,” Trump said in a tweet at the time.

Multiple outlets have reported that presidents typically undergo a single annual physical toward the beginning of a new year. The White House insisted in November that there was nothing unusual about Trump completing his third presidential physical in multiple stages.

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