The United States Department of Veterans Affairs said Friday that it will not stop use of hydroxychloroquine, an unproven malaria drug pushed by Trump, on veterans with COVID-19.
"VA has not endorsed nor discouraged the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients and has left those decisions to providers and their patients," the VA told The Associated Press:
As of Friday, 11,883 veterans are confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus and 985 have died of COVID-19, according to VA statistics.
From The Associated Press:
In responses provided to Congress and obtained by The Associated Press, the VA said it never "encouraged or discouraged" its government-run hospitals to use hydroxychloroquine on patients even as President Donald Trump heavily promoted the drug for months without scientific evidence of its effectiveness.
Still, it acknowledged that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie had wrongly asserted publicly without evidence that the drug had been shown to benefit younger veterans. The VA, the nation's largest hospital system, also agreed more study was needed on the drug and suggested its use was now limited to extenuating circumstances, such as last-ditch efforts to save a coronavirus patient's life.
In the first week of May, 17 patients had received the drug for COVID-19, according to VA data obtained by the AP. The department declined to say how many patients had been treated with hydroxychloroquine for the coronavirus since January, but a recent analysis of VA hospital data showed that hundreds of veterans had taken it by early April.
"VA has not endorsed nor discouraged the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients and has left those decisions to providers and their patients," the VA said. "While all drugs have the potential for adverse events and some drugs in particular, like hydroxychloroquine, are known to have specific risks, when they are used carefully and judiciously, they can be managed safely."