The former chief scientific adviser to the British government has accused Donald Trump of “making it up as he goes along” over the coronavirus crisis.
Sir David King, who was chief scientific adviser to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said the US president’s admission that he is using an anti-malaria drug to protect himself against the virus “should be ignored”.
Trump said on Monday he is taking hydroxychloroquine, despite several scientists claiming the drug has no effect on coronavirus.
Several of the president’s own scientific advisers have also warned that the drug should only be administered for coronavirus in a hospital or research environment because it has potentially fatal side effects.
Sir David criticised Trump for not “listening to the scientists” with his apparent refusal to follow medical advice.
“I think he speaks from the top of his head and every word he says should be ignored in terms of advice,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
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“I’m sorry but this is not the pronouncements of a person who is listening to the scientists. He is making it up as he goes along.”
Asked about the topic on Tuesday, Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey said it is an issue she “does not want to comment on”.
“I think it surprised a lot of people last night when president Trump announced this,” she told BBC Breakfast.
“However, that really is a matter between him and his clinician rather than the government of the UK.”
Despite saying he has had “zero symptoms”, he told reporters he had been taking hydroxychloroquine “for about a week and a half now” after requesting it from a White House doctor.
“I started taking it, because I think it’s good,” the 73-year-old president said. “I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”
The US Food and Drug Administration last month warned health professionals that regulators had received reports of heart rhythm problems, including deaths.
Trump has also threatened to permanently withhold funding from the World Health Organization as he continued his criticism of the body, with the US suffering the highest COVID-19 death toll.