Trump again pushes unproven drug as COVID-19 treatment
Washington – A week after appearing to project a more serious tone about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump is back to pushing unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug is an effective treatment and challenging the credibility of the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.
Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed back Tuesday, saying he will keep doing his job.
Numerous studies, meanwhile, have shown that the drug, hydroxychloroquine, is not an effective treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Other studies, including one from Michigan's Henry Ford Health, have found positive outcomes. Officials with the Michigan health system said the study found the drug “significantly” decreased the death rate of patients involved in the analysis.
The Henry Ford study analyzed 2,541 patients hospitalized among the system’s six hospitals between March 10 and May 2 and found 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died while 26% of those who did not receive the drug died.
Area health providers have reported varied experiences using the drug, and a Henry Ford Macomb doctor said he uses it only when families ask.
"There’s no good study to support benefit (of hydroxychloroquine), but certainly serious concerns about side effects,” said Dr. Nasir Husain, director of the Infection Prevention Program at Henry Ford Macomb, for a Detroit News article in June.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently withdrew an order that allowed the drug’s use as a emergency treatment for COVID-19.
Overnight, after returning from a trip to North Carolina where he promoted efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, Trump retweeted a series of tweets advocating for hydroxychloroquine.
In one, he shared a viral video that later was removed by Twitter. Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter account has been temporarily suspended after the president’s eldest son shared the same video of a group of people touting hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for COVID-19.
Twitter issued a statement saying the move was not permanent, but that the tweet “requires deletion because it violates our rules (sharing misinformation on COVID-19), and the account will have limited functionality for 12 hours.”
The president also shared a post from the Twitter account for a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, a former top White House adviser to Trump, accusing Fauci of misleading the public over hydroxychloroquine.
Fauci, a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, pushed back Tuesday during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I go along with the FDA,” said Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.”
It’s not the first time Fauci has come under attack from Trump and those close to him.
The president’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who has clashed with Fauci over hydroxychloroquine, recently penned a scathing attack on the doctor that was published by USA Today. The newspaper later said the opinion piece did not meet its standards.
In recent nationally televised interviews, Trump himself has described Fauci as “a bit of an alarmist” and accused him of making “mistakes” in his coronavirus guidance to the American people.
Asked if he can continue to do his job when Trump continues to publicly question his credibility, Fauci said Tuesday he’ll press ahead “no matter what” because of the stakes involved.
“I don’t tweet. I don’t even read them, so I don’t really want to go there,” Fauci said. “I just will continue to do my job no matter what comes out because I think it’s very important. We’re in the middle of a crisis with regard to an epidemic, a pandemic. This is what I do. This is what I’ve been trained for my entire professional life and I’ll continue to do it.”
Asked about claims he’s been misleading the public, Fauci said: “I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.”