President Donald Trump once again touted a new drug regimen against the coronavirus he said may prove ‘very affective’ against the disease – at a briefing where top national expert Dr. Anthony Fauci wasn’t present.
Trump said clinical trials would begin on the anti-malarial drug chloroquine, which has been seen to have positive effects in some cases. Trump has touted it previously, only to be contradicted by health officials who say it still must undergo rigorous testing.
At the White House Monday, Trump touted a drug combination involving Azithromycin, known as a Z-Pak, and said supplies were already going out.
‘I’m pleased to report that clinical trials in New York will be begin testing for existing drugs that may prove effective against the virus,’ Trump said, in a White House where reporters are now sitting three seats apart
President Donald Trump once again touted the anti-malarial drug chloroquine as a possible treatment for the coronavirus Monday, at a briefing where Dr. Anthony Fauci was not present. He was flanked by Attorney General William Barr and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator
‘At my direction the federal government is working to help obtain large quantities of chloroquine and you can look from any standpoint tomorrow in New York, we think tomorrow pretty early the hydroxychloroquine and the Z-Pak I think is a combination – looking very, very good – and it’s going to be distributed. We have 10,000 units going and it will be distributed tomorrow,’ Trump said.
National infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was not at the White House for the briefing Monday, said more work was needed before it could be heralded as a solution.
‘It will be available and is now, they already have it. They’re going to distribute it tomorrow morning to a lot of people in New York City and New York. We’re studying it very closely, watching it very closely,’ Trump continued.
Then he cited an anecdotal case he said showed the promise of the therapy. ‘You probably saw a couple articles today came out where a gentleman they thought he was not going to make it. He said good-bye to his family. They had given him the drug just a little while before, but he thought it was over. His family thought he was going to die. And a number of hours later he woke up, felt good, then he woke up again and he felt really good and he’s in good shape and he’s very happy for this particular drug that we got approved in record-setting time,’ said Trump.
Trump made the comments at a press conference where he said he was determined to end social distancing guidelines even as infections spread. ‘I’m not looking at months I can tell you right now,’ he said
Dr. Anthony Fauci at a press briefing on Friday. He said telling Trump ‘things he doesn’t want to hear’ was a ‘risky business’
‘There’s never been anything even close to it,’ he said.
People across the US have come forward to call the anti-malaria drug a ‘miracle’ treatment. However an Arizona man died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate.
Both took it as a ”preventative measure’ against the coronavirus, according to health provider Banner Health.
Trump also touted the drug on Saturday, saying it may be a ‘gift from God’ – although Fauci immediately tempered his remarks.
Fauci said of Trump: ‘The president is talking about hope for people and it’s not an unreasonable thing to hope for people.’
‘There are those who lean to the point of giving hope and say give that person the option of having access to that drug and then you have the other group, which is my job as a scientist, to say my job is to ultimately prove without a doubt that a drug is not only safe, but that it actually works,’ he said.
People pack bottles of chloroquine phosphate
President Donald Trump takes questions from reporters as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Monday, March 23, 2020, in Washington. Listens from left are Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Navy Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, supply chain task force lead at FEMA
Trump touted a drug therapy that also includes the antibiotic Azithromycin
NOTABLE TIMES FAUCI HAS REBUKED TRUMP
March 19 – Trump claimed anti-malaria drug hydrochloroquine could be a ‘game-changer’ in the fight against coronavirus. Dr Fauci later responds: ‘There is no magic drug.’
March 13: Trump says he does not need a test for COVID-19 despite coming into contact with a Brazilian official who was infected with the virus. Dr Fauci stated that it would be advisable for Trump to take a test
March 4: Trump tells pharmaceutical executives he hopes for a coronavirus vaccine in ‘three to four months’. Dr Fauci responds: ‘A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable’
Fauci has acknowledged the tightrope he tries to walk when he typically stands alongside Trump at briefings.
Fauci said that he tried not to ’embarrass Trump’ and said that he attempts to deal with the president by ‘continually’ talking about scientific facts.
‘But I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time,’ Fauci told Science magazine.
Trump on Saturday talked up the drug’s potential in near religious terms. Scientists must engage in clinical trials and testing to make sure the drug is safe and does not cause harm, although doctors sometimes prescribe medications as a last-ditch effort in ‘compassionate use’ cases.
‘This would be a gift from heaven, this would be a gift from god if it works. We are going to pray to god that it does work,’ the president said Saturday.
Fauci at that press conference acknowledged the two points of view – hope versus science – could come into conflict and noted he experienced just that during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
‘Those two things are really not incompatible when you think about it, particularly when you’re in an arena where you don’t have anything that’s proven,’ he said.