Trump appointees pushed health officials to ‘flood’ two states with COVID-19 'cure' touted by president
President Donald Trump giving a coronavirus briefing (screengrab)

President Donald Trump's political appointees tried to "flood" two states with doses of a malaria drug dubiously hyped as a potential coronavirus treatment.

As the president promoted the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, emails and other documents obtained by Vanity Fair show his political appointees tried to pressure top U.S. health officials to widely distribute the medication -- which has since proven to be ineffective against COVID-19.

“WH call. Really want to flood Ny and NJ with treatment courses. Hospitals have it. Sick out patients don’t. And can’t get. So go through distribution channels as we discussed. If we have 29 million perhaps send a few million ASAP? WH wants follow up in AM,” wrote Brett Giroir, the president’s COVID-19 testing czar and assistant secretary for health who oversees the U.S. Public Health Service.

Giroir sent the email April 4 to a group that included FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response Robert Kadlec, and Navy Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, who oversees a FEMA supply-chain task force.

“NOPE. Needs to go to pharmacies as well,” Giroir wrote, pushing back against skepticism from other officials. “The [emergency use authorization] matters not. The drug is approved [and] therefore can be prescribed as per doctor’s orders That is a FINAL ANSWER.”

The administration's top vaccine developer, Rick Bright, revealed he had been pushed out for resisting efforts “to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”

A study of 368 COVID-19 patients at veterans hospitals found that about 28 percent of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died, compared to 11 percent in that cohort who did not receive the anti-malarial drug.