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Donald Trump continues to push a treatment for COVID-19 on the American people which even Trump’s own top immunologist has put the brakes on. In fact, Trump has taken to advocating for the use of the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine while preventing Dr Anthony Fauci to speak about it from the briefing room apparently for fear of being contradicted.
Although hydroxychloroquine has been prescribed for decades to combat malaria, some have also sworn to be cured of deadly cases of COVID-19 after treatment with the drug.
Trump, who has become publicly tired of the extreme lockdown conditions that much of the United States is under in order to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, has become one of loudest cheerleaders for the use of hydroxychloroquine, although, in the same breath, he admits that he is no physician.
“Because I want people to live and I’m seeing people dying. I’ve seen people that are going to die without it,” Trump said Sunday. “And you know the expression. When that’s happening, they should do it. What really do we have to lose? We also have — this medicine’s been tested for many years for malaria and for lupus, so it’s been out there. It is a very strong powerful medicine, but it doesn’t kill people. We have some very good results and some very good tests.
“You’ve seen the same tests that I have. In France, they had a very good test. They’re continuing,” Trump added. “But we don’t have time to go and say, ‘Gee, let’s take a couple of years and test it out, and let’s go and test with the test tubes in the laboratories.’ We don’t have time. I’d love to do that, but we have people dying today.“
CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond pointed out on-air that Dr Fauci couldn’t respond when Trump spoke up in favor of hydroxychloroquine.
“Fauci, of course, has been on the record talking about this drug saying there’s not yet conclusive proof this drug is effective in the treatment of coronavirus,” Diamond said. “But I think it’s especially notable when you see the president there acknowledging earlier in the day that he is not a doctor as he doles out this advice about this hydroxychloroquine drug. And then when you actually see a doctor at the podium, the top government expert on infectious diseases, it’s notable that the president won’t let him speak.”
CNN’s medical analyst, Dr. Jennifer Lee, said that while it’s natural for people to want a solution in a crisis, Trump’s advocacy for such an unproven drug is unhelpful.
“Well, you know, when you’re faced with a virus like this that is so new and so deadly and dangerous, I can understand why one would look for drugs for hope in treating and battling the virus. But it is too soon and a little bit dangerous, I would say, to be encouraging people to use hydroxychloroquine, also known as plaquenil and azithromycin, so widely,” said Dr Lee, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at The George Washington University.
“You know, one thing I would say is as a physician, seeing COVID patients, we already have these drugs available to us. And if someone really needed it, of course we would try everything possible to save them, to help them,” she said. “So, I do think it is not necessarily helpful to be telling the general public to go out and try this because, again, the data is not there. It’s not proven yet. There are many trials right now that are looking at it. And we hope and pray that we’ll see the good scientific evidence that it works. But until then, I think people can feel comfortable that doctors know that they have this in their arsenal to use when they need it.
“But the general public does not need to feel like they have to go out and get these drugs and hoard them or store them up for use because it’s really not for mild symptoms right now,” Dr Lee said.
Dr Fauci also addressed the matter of hydroxychloroquine in an interview with Margaret Brennan, host of the CBS News program Face the Nation.
“You know, as I’ve said many times, Margaret, the data are really just at best suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect and there are others to show there’s no effect,” he said. “So I think in terms of science, I don’t think we could definitively say it works.”
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