LOS ANGELES — Actress Rita Wilson said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that she was given the anti-malarial drug chloroquine to treat the novel coronavirus and suffered “extreme side effects” from it.

The inexpensive malaria drug and its less toxic derivative hydroxychloroquine have been touted by President Trump as a game-changer in the fight against the pandemic, though they are yet to be established as a cure for COVID-19.

Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson

Tom Hanks, left, and Rita Wilson arrive at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles in February. Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File

Wilson and her husband, actor Tom Hanks, were hospitalized briefly on Australia’s Gold Coast after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in March. Hanks had milder symptoms, Wilson said.

Wilson said she showed virus symptoms over the first few days, including tiredness, aching and a fever with “chills like I’ve never had before,” in comments to “CBS This Morning.”

She was given the anti-malarial drug around day nine, she said.

“I know people have been talking about this drug, but I can only tell you that I don’t know if the drug worked or it was just time for the fever to break,” Wilson said.

“My fever did break – but the chloroquine had such extreme side effects. I was completely nauseous, and I had vertigo, I could not walk, and my muscles felt very weak,” she added.

“I think people have to be very considerate about that drug. We don’t really know if it’s helpful in this case.”

Both Hanks and Wilson have donated blood to aid research into the virus.


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