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President Trump's Hydroxychloroquine Revelation Stirs Debate

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- President Donald Trump's revelation Monday that he is taking hydroxychloroquine is prompting reaction.

CBS2 first told you about an Orange County doctor who may be the one who got the president's attention with a combination of medications he prescribes.

The president's revelation surprised many.

"I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it," Trump said. "I'm taking it. Hydroxychloroquine. Right now, yeah."

But it didn't surprise Zev Zelenko, a family doctor from Orange County, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.


"I'm taking this prophylaxis also. I think he is a smart man. He's in his 70s and he's exposed to many people, so the risk to him is quite significant," Dr. Zelenko said.

We first told you about him last month. He said he has treated 600 high-risk patients with only two deaths. His combination of meds: Zinc, plus the anti-Malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, and, in some cases, antibiotics.

"I got a letter from a doctor the other day," Trump said. "He just said, 'Sir, I have hundreds of patients and I give them hydroxychloroquine, I give them the Z-Pak, which is Azithromycin, and I give them Zinc.'"

"I treat them extremely early in the process," Dr. Zelenko said. "I'm really glad the president mentioned zinc, because zinc is the virus killer."

Dr. Zelenko isn't sure the president was talking about him, but he did contact the White House touting the logic of giving zinc plus hydroxychloroquine early, before patients are too sick to benefit.

"All hydroxychloroquine does is open up a door, a channel, and lets the zinc get into the inside of the cell," Dr. Zelenko said.

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"What we know about zinc is that it's an antiviral," said Dr. Avni Thakore of St. Francis Hospital.

The cocktail of medications also got the attention of researches at St. Francis Hospital, who launched a clinical trial in the earliest cases, just like Dr. Zelenko's protocol. There's no results yet, but they monitor all participants with at-home EKGs, because the drug can cause heart arrhythmia.

The so-far unproven treatment, though, has been clouded in politics after studies showed no success in the sickest patients.

"The data are really just at best suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect, and others to show there's no effect," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Zelenko believes the drug should be available early, or before infection, in consultation with a doctor.

"This is about humanity. This is about relieving misery and suffering and unnecessary death," he said.

The issue has become so divisive, a leading medical expert -- who didn't want to be identified -- said any patient has a right to take an approved medication, but worried the president's revelation could lead others to do the same, without proper monitoring.

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