Jair Bolsonaro, the nationalist right-wing president of Brazil, announced on Saturday that he had tested negative for COVID-19. The leader first tested positive for the novel coronavirus on July 7, and most recently, reports stated that he had tested positive again on July 21.
Bolsonaro confirmed the news in a Twitter post, which included a photo of himself holding a bag of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that he has often touted as a treatment against the advice of medical professionals. He claimed that taking the drug was responsible for his recovery.
U.S. President Donald Trump similarly touted the drug during the early days of the pandemic, when a small handful of evidence suggested that it might help fight the virus in some people. The drug has since been found to be unsafe for many people and not consistently effective at treating symptoms of COVID-19.
Trump eased off of promoting hydroxychloroquine once the FDA began urging against it. Bolsonaro, however, continued to tout the drug as coronavirus cases skyrocketed in Brazil.
“We know today there are other remedies that can help fight the coronavirus,” Bolsonaro said earlier. “We know none of them have their efficacy scientifically proven, but I’m one more person for whom this is working. So, I trust hydroxychloroquine.”
Bolsonaro has also drawn criticism for his dismissive and cavalier attitude towards the pandemic. In the early days, he claimed the novel coronavirus was merely a “little flu.” Later, as the death toll began to rise, he said, “I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do about it?”
Johns Hopkins University reports that as of Sunday afternoon Brazil has seen nearly 2.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, the second-most in the world behind the U.S., and over 86,000 deaths.