Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine COVID-19, “focusing on lessons learned to prepare for the next pandemic”, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 23, 2020.
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White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that all the “valid” scientific data shows malaria drug hydroxychloroquine isn’t effective in treating the coronavirus, contradicting President Donald Trump’s opinion of the drug.
“You look at the scientific data and the evidence. And the scientific data … on trials that are valid, that were randomized and controlled in the proper way, all of those trials show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or Covid-19,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during an interview on MSNBC.
The comment by Fauci came a day after Trump said he still thinks hydroxychloroquine works against Covid-19.
During a press conference Tuesday evening, Trump was asked by a reporter about a video the president shared on Twitter that went viral across social media platforms that claimed hydroxychloroquine is “a cure for Covid” and “you don’t need a mask” to slow the spread of coronavirus. The video was later labeled as containing misleading information and has since been taken down.
“I wasn’t making claims,” Trump said of his tweet, noting that he was passing along recommendations from other people, including doctors.
“Many doctors think it is extremely successful, the hydroxychloroquine coupled with the zinc and perhaps the azithromycin,” he said. “Many doctors think it’s extremely good, and some people don’t.”
“I happen to believe in it. I would take it. As you know, I took it for a 14-day period. And as you know, I’m here. I happen to think it works in the early stages,” he said.
Trump insisted the drug was safe, saying he had “no problems” when he took it.
There are no FDA-approved drugs for the coronavirus. The agency granted emergency authorization to antiviral drug remdesivir to treat Covid-19, but it’s not the same as a formal approval. Last month, the FDA pulled hydroxychloroquine’s authorization for emergency use after determining it was “unlikely” to be effective in treating people with Covid-19.
In addition to treating malaria, hydroxychloroquine is often used by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is known to have serious side effects in some patients, including muscle weakness and heart arrhythmia.
The drug generated excitement earlier in the year after a handful of small studies suggested it could be beneficial, especially when combined with antibiotic azithromycin. Trump promoted it as a potential treatment for the virus and said he used it as a preventive measure against the disease. However, several larger, randomized, placebo-controlled trials showed the drug was not helpful and caused heart issues in some patients.
Fauci said Wednesday that the public has “got to follow the science,” adding, “if a study that’s good comes out and shows efficacy and safety for hydroxychloroquine or any other drug that we do … you accept the scientific data.”
“Right now, today, the cumulative scientific data that has been put together and done over a number of different studies have shown no efficacy,” he said.