Kari Lake Says She’s Taking Hydroxychloroquine to Ward Off COVID-19

Kari Lake speaks at an anti-vaccine rally in Phoenix.
Kari Lake speaks at an anti-vaccine rally in Phoenix. Katya Schwenk
At a private event on Tuesday, former FOX10 anchor and Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake told a crowd of retired Republicans that she had “a secret” to share with them.

“I have been taking hydroxychloroquine,” Lake said, according to leaked audio of the event obtained by Phoenix New Times. She is taking the drug preventatively, she explained: “I don’t want to get somebody sick. I don’t want to get sick myself.”

Although the use of the antimalarial drug to treat Covid-19 quickly became a right-wing talking point after former President Donald Trump promoted its use, there is scant evidence for the drug’s efficacy across hundreds of studies. Public health officials in the U.S. have advised against its use outside of clinical trials, citing the risk of serious side effects.

This has not stopped politicians like Lake from playing into the conspiracies that cling to the drug — claiming that doctors and pharmacists are wrongly refusing to prescribe the medication. Off-label use of the drug for Covid-19 has subsequently persisted over the past year.

On Tuesday, Lake lamented to the crowd that it had been difficult to get a prescription: “It would have been easier to go out and get heroin,” she said. “I felt like I was trying to do something illegal.”

She was speaking at an event hosted by the Leisure World Republican Club in Mesa, to a group of GOP retirees. Diane Andersen, the president of the club, declined to comment when reached by New Times.

At the event, Lake also promised that, as governor, she would work to produce hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin (another drug that is unproven to treat Covid-19, despite international hype) in Arizona. “We should start making [the drugs] here,” she said. The crowd erupted into applause.

“We need to pass some legislation to save people from these vaccine mandates and make it easier for us to get these lifesaving drugs,” she continued.

Of course, Lake’s comments don’t come entirely as a surprise. She’s spent the last year promoting hydroxychloroquine, calling for the drug to be made “widely available over the counter” in a Tweet last month.

"Everyone should have the opportunity to easily get these life-saving drugs," said Lake in a statement to the New Times. "It should not be harder to get your hands on effective and safe ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine than it is to get illicit drugs."

And, in general, as her campaign collects endorsements from political figures like Trump and Rep. Paul Gosar, Lake has increasingly embraced conspiracy theories. Just last month, she shared a post that claimed that the pandemic was a planned event to cause mass voter fraud and knock Trump from office. “Truth,” she wrote.

“Candidates generally are either committed to evidence, or they aren’t,” said Will Humble, director of the Arizona Public Health Association, when asked about Lake’s most recent comments. “Kari Lake appears to be in camp two.”
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Katya Schwenk is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. She previously reported for VTDigger and the Indypendent.
Contact: Katya Schwenk