President Donald Trump grew testy as he doubled down on his support for hydroxychloroquine to combat the coronavirus despite experts on his own task force saying otherwise.
Trump complained on Monday that the medicine, originally designed to treat malaria, became ‘politically’ toxic ‘because I supported it.’
The president, who took a two-week course of the medication in May, has been a steady defender of it even as Dr. Antony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and administration ‘testing czar’ Brett Giroir have said hydroxy is not effective.
‘Hydroxy has tremendous support, but politically it is toxic, because I supported it. If I had said ‘Do not use hydroxychloroquine under any circumstances,’ they would have come out and said it’s a great thing. Many doctors have come out strongly in favor of it, they want to break badly,’ Trump told reporters at the White House.
The president grew testy when pressed for details on why he kept supporting the drug after members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said it was not an effective treatment for COVID.
‘Hold it,’ he said repeatedly to CNN’s Jim Acosta, who kept interrupting the president to ask additional questions on the matter.
‘Let me finish my answer,’ Trump told the CNN White House correspondent at one point. ‘Fake news, CNN, hold it.’
Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC last week that all the data and drug trials ‘show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or Covid-19.’
Trump said he disagreed with the infectious disease expert. Fauci sits on the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force.
‘I don’t agree with Fauci,’ he said on Monday, adding: ‘He’s a good person, I like him. But we disagree on things. We disagree on things.’
The president also touted a study out of Michigan as part of his argument for the drug.
But Fauci told a congressional hearing last week that the study – out of the Henry Ford Health System, which found hydroxychloroquine cut the coronavirus death rate significantly – was ‘flawed.’
‘The Henry Ford Hospital study that was published was a non-controlled, retrospective cohort study that was confounded by a number of issues including the fact that many people who received hydroxychloroquine were also receiving corticosteroids, which we know from another study gives a clear benefit in reducing deaths with advanced disease.
‘So that study is a flawed study.’
On June 15, the FDA determined hydroxy is ‘unlikely to be effective in treating’ the virus and revoked the emergency use authorization that had allowed it to be used on some hospitalized patients.
Additionally, Brett Giroir, the nation’s assistant secretary for health who coordinates the administration’s coronavirus testing, said on Sunday that there is no evidence the antimalarial drug is an ‘effective’ treatment for virus.
Giroir debunked new theories supporting hydroxychloroquine saying scientific experts agree it’s not a solution to the respiratory disease that has infected more than 4.6million and killed over 154,000.
‘Most physicians and prescribers are evidence-based and they’re not influenced by whatever is on Twitter or anything else. And the evidence just does not show hydroxychloroquine is effective right now,’ he said on Meet the Press on Sunday.
Though he didn’t name Trump it was a direct jab at the president who last week went on a Twitter spree praising the drug as a therapy for the virus.
‘At this point in time, there has been five randomized controlled, placebo controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine. So, at this point in time, we don’t recommend that as a treatment,’ he explained.
‘Hydroxychloroquine, I can’t recommend that,’ he added.
When pushed on the drug, Giroir said the public needs to stop focusing on it when there are other effective therapies already in place.
‘We need to move on from that and talk about what is effective,’ Giroir said.
‘We know that if you get COVID-19 now your chances of dying are incredibly less than it is in April because our health care providers know how to treat it better. We have effective therapies like Remdesivir and steroids, promising therapy like immune plasma and a vaccine really on the horizon,’ he added.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, also condemned the president’s stance on hydroxy in a Fox News interview Thursday.
‘We know in the randomized controlled trials to date — and there’s been several of them — that there’s not evidence that it [hydroxychloroquine] improves those patients’ outcomes. Whether they have mild, moderate disease or whether they’re seriously ill in the hospital,’ she said.
Additionally, President Trump came under fire last week when he defended a doctor who claimed that hydroxychloroquine is a ‘cure’ for coronavirus after her videos were removed by Twitter and resulted in his son’s account being suspended.
Dr. Stella Immanuel has a long history of supporting conspiracy theories and Trump ended his Tuesday press conference when pressed about his own retweets of her claims about hydroxy.
‘She was on air along with many other doctors,’ he said. ‘They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine. And I thought she was very impressive in the sense that from where she came – I don’t know which country she comes from – but she says she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients and I thought her voice was an important voice but I know nothing about her.’
The president was being pressed by claims Immanuel has made that include face masks not working in combating COVID, alien DNA being used in prescriptions, and that the medical community is trying to make a vaccine to make a person immune to religion.
Trump ended the matter by saying ‘thank you very much’ and leaving the podium.
In May the World Health Organization stopped its hydroxychloroquine trial. The National Institutes for Health similarly halted their trial in June after determining it provided ‘no benefit’ in the patients studied.
Trump retweeted a video of Dr. Immanuel claiming hydroxychloroquine works in battling the virus, which has infected more than 4.42 million and killed more than 151,000 Americans.
The video was published by the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News and showed Immanuel and others calling themselves ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ staging a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
She slammed ‘fake doctors’ who doubt the efficacy of the drug, and claimed it’s a ‘cure’, adding ‘you don’t need a mask.’
‘If some fake science comes out and says we’ve done studies and they found out that it doesn’t work, I can tell you categorically it’s fake science,’ she said.
‘I want to know who’s conducted that study and who’s behind it. Because there is no way I have treat 350 patients and counting and nobody is dead,’ she said on how she allegedly treated patients with hydroxychloroquine along with zinc, and Zithromax.
However, her claims are contrary to the extensive tests that have been done regarding the drug.
Video of her fiery speech was shared on Twitter where it racked up over 14 million views on Monday, partly due to the promotion by far-right news organizations, but Twitter later took it down.
Facebook and YouTube also began to pull down videos of her claims, claiming it’s spreading misinformation about the pandemic.
Immanuel demanded the social media platforms reupload her videos after they were taken down for spreading disinformation. She claimed God would crash their computers if they did not repost her speech.
‘Hello Facebook put back my profile page and videos up or your computers with start crashing till you do. You are not bigger that God. I promise you. If my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name,’ Immanuel said in a mistake-littered tweet Monday night.
While Immanuel has been embraced by Trump and his supporters, the pediatrician and religious minister has made some outlandish claims in the past.
She has often alleged that gynecological problems, like cysts and endometriosis, are actually caused by people dreaming about having intercourse with demons and witches.
Immanuel also claims scientists are working on a vaccine to prevent people from being born religious and asserts that alien DNA is used in modern-day medical treatments.