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Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, Infected with Coronavirus, Touts Untested Malaria Drug HCQ

File photo of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. (Reuters)

File photo of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. (Reuters)

A string of studies in Britain and the United States, as well as by the World Health Organization, have found hydroxychloroquine ineffective and sometimes deadly because of its effects on the heart. Several studies were canceled early because of that.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is infected with the coronavirus, on Wednesday defended his government's handling of the pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of Brazilians and touted his use of a contentious anti-malaria drug.

Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself eating breakfast on Facebook, and a message that said his government provided payouts to informal sector labourers, thereby saving jobs and lives without spreading panic about the pandemic. The nation's confirmed death toll from COVID-19 is the second highest in the world after the United States.

"No country in the world did it like Brazil," Bolsonaro said. "For those who root against hydroxychloroquine, but don't present alternatives, I regret to inform you that I'm very well with its use and, with God's grace, I will live for a long time still."

Bolsonaro said Tuesday that he tested positive for the virus, after months of downplaying its severity while deaths mounted rapidly inside the country. He repeatedly touted chloroquine, a more toxic version of the anti-malarial drug.

A string of studies in Britain and the United States, as well as by the World Health Organization, have found it ineffective and sometimes deadly because of its effects on the heart. Several studies were canceled early because of that.

The president told reporters he underwent a lung X-ray on Monday after experiencing fever, muscle aches and malaise. As of Tuesday, his fever had subsided, he said, and he attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine.

He stepped back from the journalists and removed his mask at one point to show that he looked well.

The 65-year-old right-wing populist who has been known to mingle in crowds without covering his face confirmed the results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters huddled close in front of him in the capital, Brasilia.

"I'm, well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can't due to medical recommendations," Bolsonaro said.

Later Tuesday, he posted a video to Facebook of him taking his third dose of hydroxychloroquine, which has also been promoted by President Donald Trump.

Brazil, the world's sixth-biggest nation, with more than 210 million people, is one of the outbreak's most lethal hot spots. More than 65,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, and over 1.5 million have been infected.

The true figures are believed to be higher because of a lack of widespread testing. On Tuesday alone, 1,254 deaths were confirmed.

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