Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who this week tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus, publicly asserted his faith in the medicine hydroxychloroquine by sharing a video of himself taking it this week.
Bolsonaro took the pills during a Facebook Live stream on Tuesday, a method he often uses to communicate with his supporters, where he claimed that his political enemies want to see the drug fail.
“I’m doing much better than I was … It’s working. I trust hydroxychloroquine,” he said, smiling and ingesting one of the pills. “Do you?”
The 65-year-old described himself as “one more person it’s working on.”
The question of the potential use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Chinese coronavirus patients has ignited fierce debate among politicians, though studies remain underway and, as the virus was only first documented in late 2019, remain inconclusive. The drug is traditionally used to treat malaria.
President Donald Trump has also repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine as a potential aid in overcoming coronavirus infection, as well.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against its use in a clinical setting, citing side effects such as “serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure.”
“Based on ongoing analysis and emerging scientific data, FDA has revoked the emergency use authorization (EUA) to use hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19 in certain hospitalized patients when a clinical trial is unavailable or participation is not feasible,” notes the FDA.
In remarks on Twitter on Wednesday, Bolsonaro insisted he was feeling “very well” after taking the drug.
“To those who cheer against hydroxychloroquine, but do not present alternatives, I regret to inform you that I am very well with its use and, with the grace of God, I will live for a long time to come,” he wrote, posting of photo himself appearing to enjoy a coffee or tea.
D- Aos que torcem contra a Hidroxicloroquina, mas não apresentam alternativas, lamento informar que estou muito bem com seu uso e, com a graça de Deus, viverei ainda por muito tempo. pic.twitter.com/koydDXoHUT
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) July 8, 2020
Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has for months been an issue of international controversy. Having repeatedly played down its severity, describing it as just a “little flu,” he has long urged his compatriots to continue their lives as normal to mitigate the devastating economic impact of quarantine measures. He has also regularly gone out in public without wearing a mask, leading to a federal judge ordering him to do so.
Despite his skepticism, Brazil has now recorded close more than 1.7 million cases and over 67,000 deaths, making it the second worst-hit country worldwide after the United States in terms of official statistics. This tally includes statistics from untrustworthy rogue states like Russia, China, and Iran, which independent reports suggest have endured much higher death rates than what they documented publicly.
Bolsonaro has defended his record, insisting that his liberal approach saved many livelihoods.
“No country in the world did it like Brazil,” he wrote on Wednesday. “We saved lives and jobs without spreading panic, which also leads to depression and deaths. I always said that fighting the virus could not have a worse collateral effect than the virus itself.”