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A M Reid
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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On Saturday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro feuded with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a Situation Room meeting regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine. Dr. Fauci argued that presently, there is no reliable evidence that proves hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating coronavirus, and much more data is needed. Navarro disagreed, stating that studies conducted of the antimalarial drug show it has “clear therapeutic efficacy.”
Today, Navarro was criticized by New Day’s co-anchor John Berman, who suggested he was not qualified to discuss COVID-19 treatment plans.
“You had a debate inside the Situation Room with the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, the man who is in charge to a certain extent of the nation’s medical response to this, and all he said, he wants this to work, everyone wants this to work. All he has said is, let’s let the testing and the science decide. What you seem to be saying is, I’ve read a study out of Wuhan, and I decided,” Berman told Navarro while interviewing him on the show.
Navarro disputed this claim, stating he actually “had over 100 pages of numerous studies” in the meeting, and “doctors disagree about things all of the time.”
Continuing, Navarro asserted that he has every right to discuss the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus patients because he is a “social scientist.”
“I have a Ph.D., and I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics or whatever,” he added.
Following on from this, Berman asked if he had any reason “to doubt the analysis of Dr. Anthony Fauci?”
“I agree with the analysis of Dr. Fauci in this sense, it’s — we don’t have definitive 100 percent science to say that [hydroxychloroquine] absolutely works, and we don’t know what degree that is does work,” Navarro remarked. “That’s not inconsistent with the idea of using it as they do, in all 11 hospitals in the New York Health and Hospital System, as a therapeutic at this time when we are in basically at war with the virus, and it appears, at least in some studies, to have therapeutic efficacy.”
Trump has also been an advocate for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency approval to distribute hydroxychloroquine to U.S. hospitals, Trump announced that he had stockpiled 29 million doses, and urged infected patients to take the drug if offered to them, saying “what do you have to lose?”
“We don’t have time to say, Gee, let’s take a couple of years and test it out, and let’s go and test with the test tubes and the laboratories. It doesn’t kill people,” Trump said.
The FDA explained that although the drug’s effectiveness is unproven, it is “reasonable to believe that…hydroxychloroquine sulfate may be effective in treating COVID-19.” They further noted that “the known and potential benefits of…hydroxychloroquine sulfate when used to treat COVID-19 outweigh the known and potential risks” of the drug.
Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician, warned that the antimalarial drug has the potential to cause “psychiatric symptoms, cardiac problems and a host of other bad side effects,” however, these side effects are rare.
During the interview, Berman addressed Trump’s recent comments, and asked if Navarro agreed with the view that patients had nothing to lose, even with the drug’s “potential side effects.”
“Well, look, you can take any drug right now in America and read the side effects and every single thing you take has some potential side effects that can harm you…but in this particular case, this drug has been around for many, many decades. It has recognized side effects, but some doctors judge that the risk is relatively low relative to the risk of dying of covid,” Navarro said.
Navarro then stressed that despite the disagreement between him and Dr. Fauci, the coronavirus task force members had all “unanimously” agreed to surge the hydroxychloroquine supply “to the hot zones and let the doctor-patient relationship determine who takes it.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have notably officially recognized hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus, but emphasize that currently there is no “available data from Randomized Clinical Trials (RCTs) to inform clinical guidance on the use, dosing, or duration of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
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