Donald Trump speaks at the US Capitol, May 19, 2020 (Drew Angerer/Getty)

Rocked by criticism of his promotion of an untested, potentially dangerous drug to treat Coronavirus, Donald Trump says a detailed medical study of hydroxylchloroquine is a “Trump enemy statement”.

Trump lashed out on Tuesday, misrepresenting a study of 255 patients by the Veterans Administration: “If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old. Almost dead. It was a Trump enemy statement.”

On Monday, Trump tried to divert headlines of more than 90,000 US deaths from Coronavirus by declaring that he was taking hydroxylchloroquine, the anti-malarial drug he has promoted since mid-March as a cure.

But the stunt backfired as experts, including the head of the American Medical Association, summarized that there is no evidence of the drug’s effectiveness. They noted studies which have found dangerous, potentially fatal side effects such as interrupted heart rate. they warned that hydroxylchloroquine is being diverted from the uses for which it is approved, such as treatment of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

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The VA study, the largest of its kind, found that 97 patients given hydroxychloroquine had a 27.8% death rate, while the 158 patients who did not take the drug had an 11.4% death rate. The National Institutes of Health posted the findings on its website last month.

However, Trump — who has also suggested the ingestion of disinfectant and ultraviolet treatment as potential cures for the virus — insisted:

Last week the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced a 2,000-patient study hydroxychloroquine combined with the antibiotic azithromycin. There are more than 50 other clinical trials involving hydroxychloroquine in the US.

The US death toll reached 91,938 on Tuesday, an increase of 1,575 in 24 hours. There are 1,528,661 confirmed cases.

But Trump saw the figures as a “badge of honor”.

Caution in Administration

Other Administration officials carefully walked a tightrope of not disputing Trump, while not endorsing his ingestion of hydroxychloroquine.

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox TV that he was not taking the drug because his doctor had not recommended it.

However, he declared that he “wouldn’t hesitate” to use hydroxychloroquine if it was prescribed.

Dr Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus coordinator, deflected questions from reporters.

On Monday night, Trump’s doctor Sean Conley covered his client by writing, “After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”

But Trump continued to struggle, even with supporters. Fox TV’s Neil Cavuto maintained his pushback:

Cavuto was assailed by Trump and attacked on social media when he told viewers on Monday not to follow Trump’s lead: “It will kill you.”

Other Trump loyalists on Fox TV, including Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Trump’s friend Sean Hannity, continued to endorse the consumption of hydroxylchloroquine.