A woman who has lupus took hydroxychloroquine for 19 years. She still got COVID-19

She took precautions when leaving the house for the grocery store, but thought she would be safe because of what President Donald Trump has said about the drug.


A Wisconsin woman who has had lupus for most of her life said she takes hydroxychloroquine and still caught COVID-19.

Kim, who only wants her first name used, said she has taken the anti-malarial drug for 19 years to help treat the pain caused by her lupus.

Kim said when the pandemic began, she only left her home to go to the grocery store. She said by mid-April though, she started feeling coronavirus symptoms.

"Weak all over. Coughing, fever. The fever was very high," Kim said. "It just went downhill from there. I couldn't breathe no more."

Kim said her primary care doctor prescribed antibiotics, but her condition worsened. She said when she went to an urgent care center days later, nurses said her oxygen saturation levels were at 78%, when they need to be at 95% or higher.

Kim said after arriving at a hospital, 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,'" Kim said. "I'm like, 'How can I be sick? How? I'm on the hydroxychloroquine.' They were like, 'Well, nobody ever said that was the cure or that was going to keep you safe' and it definitely did not."

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.

The president has repeatedly said that hydroxychloroquine could help treat or prevent COVID-19. In fact, this week, Trump told White House reporters that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine.

"A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxychloroquine. A lot of good things have come out and you'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers before you catch it. The front-line workers, many, many are taking it," Trump said on Monday. "I happen to be taking it. I happened to be taking it, hydroxychloroquine right now. A couple of weeks ago I started taking it. Here's my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it. The only negative I've heard was the study where they gave it was at the VA with, you know, people that aren't big Trump fans gave it."

However, studies have shown it does not help protect against the virus and doctors have also argued it could be dangerous to take if people do not have a condition, like Kim's.

"There is a potential for cardiac abnormalities, abnormal heart rhythm, eye issues, retinopathy," said Dr. Joseph Rahimian, an abnormal disease specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center. "Those are all possible with its use."

Kim said she was in the hospital for seven days. She said she was on oxygen and received plasma.

She 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," Kim 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."