OCONOMOWOC, Wis. (CBS Local) — A Wisconsin woman who has taken hydroxychloroquine for 19 years to treat lupus says the anti-malarial drug will not protect someone from COVID-19.
Kim, who doesn’t want to show her face or give her full name, says after the pandemic began, she only left her Oconomowoc home to go the grocery store.
But by mid-April, she started feeling coronavirus symptoms.
“Weak all over. Coughing, fever. The fever was very high,” she told WISN. “It just went downhill from there. I couldn’t breathe no more.”
Kim said she tested positive for COVID-19.
“When they gave the diagnosis, I felt like it was a death sentence. I was like, ‘I’m going to die,’” she said. “I’m like, ‘How can I be sick? How? I’m on the hydroxychloroquine.’ They were like, ‘Well, nobody’s ever said that was the cure or that was going to keep you safe’ and it definitely did not.”
Woman with lupus took hydroxychloroquine for 19 years, still got COVID-19 https://t.co/w9r0KNia81
— WISN 12 NEWS (@WISN12News) May 20, 2020
Kim said even though she took precautions when leaving the house for the grocery store, she thought she would be safe because of what President Donald Trump has said about the drug.
Trump has repeatedly advocated hydroxychloroquine for possible treatment or prevention of COVID-19. On Monday, he revealed he had been taking the drug “for about a week and a half.”
“A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy. A lot of good things have come out. You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers — before you catch it,” Trump said at the White House. “I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it. … I’m taking it — hydroxychloroquine — right now.”
Hydroxychloroquine is often used to treat autoimmune diseases like lupus, but has “not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19,” according to the most recent guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA warned last month against taking hydroxychloroquine “outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.”
“There’s no real indication, no evidence base, for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Kim, who was hospitalized for seven days, is mostly recovered now but is still on oxygen at her home.
“You’re not safe taking that medication at all. [Hydroxychloroquine] is not going to prevent anything. You can still get coronavirus,” she said. “It kind of makes me mad that [Trump] thinks it’s going to do that and is telling the whole world it’s going to do that.”