The White House is defending President Donald Trump’s decision to take a malaria drug he’s been promoting as a treatment for the coronavirus, despite warnings from his own government that it should only be administered for COVID-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects. The drug has no proven benefits either in fighting the virus or preventing infection.

The president has been drawing criticism from Democratic leaders and some health experts after saying he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily for a week and a half, after two White House staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that “tens of millions of people around the world have used this drug for other purposes,” including malaria prophylaxis, and urged all patients to consult with their doctors.

Trump’s previous endorsement of hydroxychloroquine sparked India, the world’s largest producer of the drug, to make much more of it, prescribe it for health workers treating the coronavirus and deploy it as a diplomatic tool.

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