Donald Trump may be quietly walking away from his previous stance on hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure, one that he decided to push with the help of Fox News despite all evidence that it was nothing of the kind and could actually be dangerous. It’s going to be a bit more difficult to backpedal than he probably imagined, however, particularly in the state of Utah, where promoters bragged of the anti-malaria drug’s ability to “raise the dead” on Trump’s behalf back in mid-March.
The state spent $800,000 on the drug and made plans to set aside $8 million to distribute free to people diagnosed with COVID-19, even while experts warned them against the drug’s side effects. This is a pretty hefty sum for a state that spent most of the last eight years refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare – despite its residents voting in favor of expansion, and House Democrats from Utah fought against the move. On Friday, the state’s Republican governor Gary Herbert finally announced that the state wouldn’t buy any more hydroxychloroquine, giving in to FDA warnings and asked for a refund on the first $800,000 spent.
Considering the degree to which Trump lied and promoted this drug, hoping that the administration could stockpile large quantities, it’s only a matter of time before we see similar problems popping up across the country – even in reliably Republican states where Donald Trump can’t afford to lose any support. If he thought simply skipping press briefings would take further heat off of him, he’s sorely mistaken – he might just further ignite the public’s appetite for an investigation into his response.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making