Man dies from homemade virus ‘cure’


A man has died in the US after reportedly taking a drug he mistook for one President Donald Trump has been touting as a treatment for coronavirus.

The couple from Phoenix are said to have ingested a parasite treatment for fish with a similar chemical name to a medical treatment that Mr Trump has talked up as being a potential weapon in the fight against COVID-19.

At a new conference on March 19, Mr Trump said chloroquine, which has been in use since 1944 to treat malaria, was being investigated as it might have antiviral properties.

The couple in their 60s watched the briefing after which the man's wife recalled that chloroquine was an ingredient in a product they had used to clean their aquarium.

"I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, 'Hey, isn't that the stuff they're talking about on TV?'" the woman, who didn't want to be named, told NBC News.

"We were afraid of getting sick," she said, due to the fact they were both in a higher risk category for coronavirus.

The couple mixed the product with water. But within 20 minutes both became ill, dizzy and hot as they had mistakenly ingested chloroquine phosphate which is a non-medication form of the chemical and highly toxic.


"I started vomiting. My husband started developing respiratory problems and wanted to hold my hand," she said.

Shortly after arriving at hospital, her husband died.

President Trump has come under criticism for talking up chloroquine's possible ability to treat COVID-19 despite his own advisers saying its effectiveness was at this point only "anecdotal".


Last week Mr Trump said chloroquine "may work, may not work" but that he "felt good" about it and the US government has ordered "millions of units" of the drug.

He said there had been "very, very encouraging early results".

But Dr Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who shared a podium with Mr Trump at the briefing, was far more circumspect.

He said that while it was being examined, it was not yet at the stage of a clinical trial and there was no guarantee it was effective.

"You really can't make any definitive statement about it," Dr Fauci said.

Originally published as Man dies from homemade virus 'cure'

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