There’s chloroquine, and there’s chloroquine phosphate. They may sound similar but they’re very, very different.
Chloroquine and the closely related hydroxychloroquine are drugs used in the treatment and prevention of malaria.
Chloroquine phosphate is a chemical used to clean fish tanks and to prevent parasites.
President Trump has of late mentioned the former as potentially promising in the treatment of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. He has never mentioned the latter, but the media were quick to ascribe blame to the president when a man in Arizona, who did not have coronavirus, ingested chloroquine phosphate and died.
“The wife of an Arizona man who died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate to protect himself from the coronavirus spoke out on Monday to warn the public not to ‘take anything’ or ‘believe anything’ without speaking to a healthcare professional,” Business Insider reported.
The man’s wife, who also suffered serious injury from drinking the fish tank cleaner, blamed President Donald Trump.
“‘We saw Trump on TV — every channel — and all of his buddies and that this was safe,’ the woman told NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard, referring to President Donald Trump. ‘Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.’”
Trump did not call the medication a “cure,” and certainly did not instruct individuals to ingest chloroquine phosphate, but several news outlets reported the story, taking the woman’s story at face value, never differentiating between the two chemicals. Some even got Trump into the headline.
The left-leaning political website Axios was forced to a post on Twitter that said: “Man dies after self-medicating with chloroquine.”
We have deleted this tweet and corrected our story because it did not reflect the full nature of the self-medication done with an additive commonly used to clean fish tanks. https://t.co/0zucqRaIkI pic.twitter.com/3YY86rju2w
— Axios (@axios) March 24, 2020
The website also added this to the piece: “Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the form of chloroquine the couple ingested was used in aquariums — and it was not a medication.”
Meanwhile, the left-leaning website BuzzFeed reported: “A Man Died After Self-Medicating With A Drug Trump Promoted As A Potential Treatment For The Coronavirus.” But then they changed the headline to: “A Man Died After Self-Medicating With A Form Of A Drug That Trump Promoted As A Potential Treatment For The Coronavirus.” Well, technically true — they both contain chloroquine — but one cures malaria and the other is toxic if ingested and kills you.
The uber-liberal Time magazine wrote: “Arizona Man Dies After Taking Chemical in Coronavirus Treatment Touted by President Trump.”
The Guardian published a piece with this headline: “Arizona man dies after attempting to take Trump coronavirus ‘cure’.”
US News posted a Reuters story with this headline: “Arizona Man Dies After Taking Chloroquine for Coronavirus.”
And CBS News went all in: “Arizona man dies, wife ill after taking drug touted as virus treatment: ‘Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.’”
Trump last week said the malaria drug has shown promise. “It’s shown very encouraging — very, very encouraging early results,” Trump said. “And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that’s where the FDA has been so great. They — they’ve gone through the approval process; it’s been approved. And they did it, they took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we’re going to be able to make that drug available by prescription or states.”