Don’t touch this plant, even if Donald Trump believes it can cure Covid-19

Do not touch this plant, even if Donald Trump believes it can cure Covid-19

The president of the United States implicitly supports a treatment against the coronavirus based on oleandrin, which is extracted from oleander, a toxic plant

The list of supposed miracle cures against Covid-19 that Donald Trump defends includes oleandrin, a substance that is found naturally in the sap of a common plant in Mediterranean countries, the oleander or flower laurel (named scientist Nerium oleander). Oleander is now widely used in gardening (its flowers are really pretty) but it contains toxic substances that can be lethal to humans or pets such as dogs.

The basis of this new controversy around the treatments against Covid-19 has as its protagonist Mike Lindell, general director of the company My Pillow and a prominent donor or patron of Donald Trump’s electoral campaigns.

Lindell has repeated in various media that his company is working on a drug against Covid-19 made from oleandrin and Donald Trump knows and supports this product; even suggesting that the president would be pressuring the FDA to legalize the use of this substance.

Lindell’s claims have sparked journalistic curiosity and scientific concern.

In this sense, it is somewhat surprising that The New York Times explains the controversy caused by Donald Trump’s implicit support for oleandrin with this headline ” Drug Pitched to Trump for Covid-19 Comes From a Deadly Plant“.

It cannot be ruled out that a plant with lethal effects may contain substances that, properly treated and in adequate doses, may be effective in some therapies, but in these cases, the principle of prudence and the maximum requirement of rigorous and contrasted scientific studies are imposed.

Specifically, in the case of oleandrin as a treatment for Covid-19, there is no known study that supports the clearly mercantilist theses of Mike Lindell.

The danger of not speaking clearly

The current White House tenant has not denied so far (August 21) Mike Lindell’s repeated claims about the benefits (for health and against Covid) of oleandrin.

On the contrary, Trump has maintained an ambiguity that only fuels the confusion of a part of the citizens of the country, as has happened previously with more than controversial treatments such as hydroxychloroquine.

The official White House website includes the transcript of one of the informational conferences (on August 17) in which Trump referred to oleandrin. With his typical interrupted and disconnected phrases, Trump on this occasion left open the business expectations for Mike Lindell’s company.

Question from one of the journalists:

Oleandrin — have you heard of that as a possible therapy for coronavirus??

Donald Trump :

I’ve heard of it, yes. Go ahead.

Journalist :

Have you pressed the FDA to approve it?

Donald Trump :

No, I haven’t. I haven’t.

Journalist :

 Is it something you would support?

Donald Trump :

Is it something that people are talking about very strongly? We’ll look at it. We’ll look it. We’re looking at a lot of different things.

I will say, the FDA has been great. They are very close — we’re very close to a vaccine, very close to a therapeutic. I’ve heard that name mentioned. We’ll find out. I can get back to you later. Okay?