By Jeff Mason and Lindsay Dunsmuir
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump doubled his support for a drug that is still being tested to treat coronavirus on Saturday, saying he could take the drug himself and encourage others with doctor’s approval to do the same.
At his daily press conference, Trump also berated some states for asking the federal government for more fans than he needed.
Trump said next week would be particularly difficult with “a lot of deaths” from the coronavirus. But he also reiterated his concern that the “cure” for the social distancing from the epidemic is worse than the problem.
Trump has been criticized for initially minimizing the risks of the coronavirus and has hesitated between warning the Americans of its seriousness and complaining about its economic costs.
Trump’s optimistic comments on Saturday about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, reflected his tendency to make a problem look positive while data was still in progress collection.
“I can take it,” said Trump. “I’m going to have to ask my doctors about it, but I can take it.” Trump has been tested twice for the coronavirus, according to the White House, and both times have been negative.
The European Commission said this week that the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 has not been proven.
Trump said the federal government had 29 million doses of the drug and was adding to its national stock. He said he asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to also lift a US drug ordinance.
The US Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency authorization for the drug to be dispensed from national inventory so that doctors can prescribe it to COVID-19 inpatients, even if tests continue to be performed and the data collected.
“We just hear really positive stories and we keep collecting the data,” said Trump.
The president said fears of a shortage had prompted U.S. states to ask for more fans than they needed. He said that the federal government had 10,000 in its stocks. “Some states have more fans than they need, they don’t even like to admit it,” he said.
The president, a Republican running for election in November, also praised Republican governors who did not give orders to “stay at home” for their states.
“They are doing very well and they are doing a wonderful job of managing their states,” he said.
Even though the best doctors have emphasized the importance and effectiveness of social distancing measures, Trump again seemed frustrated with their impact on the economy.
“We are not going to destroy our country,” he said. “We can’t let this continue, so at some point, tough decisions are going to have to be made. “
The current federal guidelines, which provide warnings for people to wash their hands and avoid groups of more than 10 people, are in place until the end of April.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by David Gregorio)