The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the White House is currently evaluating the plan of a conspiracy-peddling doctor who claims he has successfully treated hundreds of coronavirus patients with an unproven anti-malarial drug. The doctor, Vladimir Zelenko, recently posted his purported findings in an open letter, which was read by Fox News host Sean Hannity—who also serves as an unofficial Trump adviser— during an interview with Vice President Mike Pence. According to an official cited by the Post, President Donald Trump noticed the segment and flagged it for the White House.
Zelenko told the Post that he was contacted by incoming White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after he posted a Facebook video message to Trump calling on the president to “advise the country that they should be taking this medication.” A person close to Meadows confirmed to the Post that the White House was weighing Dr. Zelenko’s plan. Zelenko, meanwhile, has shared a number of conspiratorial memes on social media since the start of the pandemic, claiming the virus is a Chinese bioweapon and that Democrats have exaggerated the threat of the disease.
Recently, both Trump and Fox News have loudly touted the potential effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing COVID-19, with the president calling it a “game changer” despite experts urging caution and noting that any benefits have been “anecdotal.” Zelenko himself has acknowledged that the drugs do have side effects, adding that they’re “not candy.” This week, meanwhile, New York reportedly moved forward with an observational trial of the drug.