Florida Man with Coronavirus Credits Drug Touted by Trump for Saving His Life

Medical staff shows on February 26, 2020 at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille, packets of a Nivaquine, tablets containing chloroquine and Plaqueril, tablets containing hydroxychloroquine, drugs that has shown signs of effectiveness against coronavirus. - The Mediterranee infection Institute in Marseille based in La Timone Hospital is at …
GERARD JULIEN/AFP via Getty Images

A Florida man with coronavirus claims an anti-malaria drug, touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for the virus, saved his life.

Rio Giardinieri, 52, told Fox 11 Los Angeles that he suffered from a cough, headache, back pain, and fatigue after he caught the coronavirus, which he believes he caught at a conference in New York.

Doctors in South Florida diagnosed him with the coronavirus and pneumonia and put him on oxygen in the intensive care unit (ICU).

More than a week later, doctors said there was nothing more they could do for him, so on Friday evening, Giardinieri said his goodbyes to his wife and three kids.

“I was at the point where I was barely able to speak and breathing was very challenging,” Giardinieri said. “I really thought my end was there.”

Then, a friend forwarded him an article about hydroxychloroquine, a prescription drug used to treat illnesses such as malaria and lupus. Other studies conducted overseas have found it to be a promising treatment for coronavirus, although it has not yet been approved by health officials.

Trump said last week he was asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast-track its testing of hydroxychloroquine and a similar drug, chloroquine, as a treatment for the coronavirus.

Giardinieri said he got in touch with an infectious disease doctor about hydroxychloroquine.

“He gave me all the reasons why I would probably not want to try it because there are no trials, there’s no testing, it was not something that was approved,” said Giardinieri.

“And I said, ‘Look, I don’t know if I’m going to make it until the morning,’ because at that point I really thought I was coming to the end because I couldn’t breathe anymore,” Giardinieri continued.

The doctor agreed and within 30 minutes, a nurse gave him an IV infusion of the medicine. After receiving the medicine via IV for about an hour, Giardinieri said he felt his heart beating rapidly and had another episode where he could barely breathe.

He added that he was given some Benadryl and other drugs so when he awoke at 4:45 a.m. “It was like nothing ever happened.”

Since the IV infusion, Giardinieri said he has had no fever or pain and can breathe. He added that doctors believe the episodes he experienced were related to his body fighting the virus as opposed to a reaction to the medicine.

Giardinieri had three doses of the medicine since his first dose and hopes to be discharged in five days.

“To me, there was no doubt in mind that I wouldn’t make it until morning,” said Giardinieri. “So to me, the drug saved my life.”


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