Coronavirus Patient in Florida Says Drug Touted by Trump Saved His Life

'To fight the coronavirus, President Donald Trump is adopting the audacity of false hope," an article from CNN declared on Friday, after Trump announced he's pushed the FDA to fast-track the approval of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with the coronavirus. Small studies have shown promising results so far, but more trials are needed.  Rather than acknowledge this promising development, CNN, and other media outlets rushed to attack Trump.

The president "peddles snake oil and false hope," wrote the USA Today editorial board. "Trump was at the White House podium peddling a fake cure for a virus that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in a way that would have gotten him kicked off the Home Shopping Network and potentially invited federal prosecution for false claims and fraud," claimed Salon.

But a Florida man who was diagnosed with the coronavirus says that the very drug Trump said showed promise in treating it saved him from certain death.

For five days after catching the disease, Rio Giardinieri, 52, experienced horrendous back pain, headaches, cough and fatigue. Once diagnosed with the coronavirus and pneumonia, he was put on oxygen in the ICU, but after more than a week, he was told by doctors there was nothing more they could do.  “I was at the point where I was barely able to speak and breathing was very challenging,” Giardinieri said. “I really thought my end was there.” Giardinieri even said goodbye to his wife and three children.

But, after receiving an article on hydroxychloroquine from a friend, he contacted an infectious disease doctor about it.

“He gave me all the reasons why I would probably not want to try it because there are no trials, there’s no testing, it was not something that was approved,” Giardinieri told Fox 11 in Los Angeles. “And I said, ‘Look, I don’t know if I’m going to make it until the morning,’ because at that point I really thought I was coming to the end because I couldn’t breathe anymore."

“He agreed and authorized the use of it and 30 minutes later the nurse gave it to me,” Giardinieri continued.

He received an IV with the medicine, and despite some episodes he experienced during the treatment, by morning it was “like nothing ever happened.” He's had no fever and has no trouble breathing anymore. He expects to be discharged from the hospital this week. “To me, there was no doubt in mind that I wouldn’t make it until morning,” said Giardinieri. “So to me, the drug saved my life.”

Giardinieri is not the only one who says the drug Trump said showed promise helped them.

Actor Daniel Dae Kim, 51, who was on the hit show Lost, also says the anti-malaria drug helped him after he was diagnosed with coronavirus. He took several drugs and treatments: the antiviral medicine Tamiflu, the antibiotic Azithromycin, and a Glycopyrrolate inhaler alongside hydroxychloroquine. He believes they all contributed to his recovery. "I won't say this is a cure and I won't say definitively that you should go out and use it, but what I will say is that I believe it was crucial to my recovery," Kim said.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis