Airline Pilots Barred From Taking Drug Trump Touts Against Virus

Airline pilots who take either of the two drugs President Donald Trump has touted for use against Covid-19 are disqualified from flying, U.S. aviation regulators are warning.

Trump has repeatedly said he’s optimistic about the prospects for two anti-malarial drugs, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, as treatments for people with the new coronavirus, but theFederal Aviation Administration says pilots should steer clear until more studies can be done.

“There is currently no satisfactory scientific evidence that use of these medications decreases the severity of Covid-19,” said Penny Giovanetti, the director of the FAA’s Medical Specialties Division. “There is no evidence that these medications prevent Covid-19 infection.”

The FAA, which closely monitors pilots’ health along with testing their flying proficiency, said it’s currently impossible to know the doses needed to prevent infection — a use of the drugs that’s not approved — so it can’t perform a risk assessment. The known risks include heart disturbances and hypoglycemia, according to the agency.

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Pilots who have taken the drugs aren’t permitted to fly within 48 hours.

Even as the vast majority of the country is under lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading, airlines are continuing to fly, putting pilots a higher risk.

“We understand the concern of persons operating in the national and international air spaces,” Giovanetti wrote. “Exercise of social distancing and hand washing represent a far more effective means of prevention.”

— With assistance by Mary Schlangenstein

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