Only in the Trump administration can you have a non-economist like Larry Kudlow give economic advice and an economist dispense medical advice. Then again, having Peter Navarro give Trump advice on China trade was such a winner.
Berman: What are your qualifications to weigh in on medicines more than Dr. Fauci?— Lis Power (@LisPower1) April 6, 2020
Navarro: My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I'm a social scientist. I have a PHD, I understand how to read studies
Berman: That doesn't qualify you to treat patients! pic.twitter.com/ZugKSZXFPs
Trump continues to seek a miracle cure, and likely will tout the first successful treatment using hydroxychloroquine as no less than a ‘miracle’, complete with religious fervor. Whether such events will save his re-election prospects doesn’t alter the impression that Trump still delayed the pandemic response and contributed to a higher death toll.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In mid-March, President Donald Trump personally pressed federal health officials to make malaria drugs available to treat the novel coronavirus, though they had been untested for COVID-19, two sources told Reuters.
Shortly afterward, the federal government published highly unusual guidance informing doctors they had the option to prescribe the drugs, with key dosing information based on unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science.
While Trump, in a series of tweets and press comments, had made his opinions on the drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, well known, the nature of his behind-the-scenes intervention has not been previously reported. The guidance, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has received scant notice outside medical circles.
The episode reveals how the president’s efforts could change the nature of drug oversight, a field long governed by strict rules of science and testing. Rarely, if ever, has a U.S. president lobbied regulators and health officials to focus their efforts on specific unproven drugs.
“The president is short-circuiting the process with his gut feelings,” said Jeffrey Flier, a former dean of Harvard Medical School. “We are in an emergency and we need to rely on our government to ensure that all these potential therapies are tested in the most effective and objective way.”
If you are only lightly acquainted with Peter Navarro, be sure to watch John Oliver's assessment of him back when Navarro was the "trade guy" (tariffs) https://t.co/UIziRlHbj2— Bobby P. (@BobbyP43347775) April 6, 2020
Toward the end of the meeting, Hahn began a discussion of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump believes could be a “game-changer” against the coronavirus.
- Hahn gave an update about the drug and what he was seeing in different trials and real-world results.
- Then Navarro got up. He brought over a stack of folders and dropped them on the table. People started passing them around.
- “And the first words out of his mouth are that the studies that he’s seen, I believe they’re mostly overseas, show ‘clear therapeutic efficacy,'” said a source familiar with the conversation. “Those are the exact words out of his mouth.”
Navarro’s comments set off a heated exchange about how the Trump administration and the president ought to talk about the malaria drug, which Fauci and other public health officials stress is unproven to combat COVID-19.
- Fauci pushed back against Navarro, saying that there was only anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine works against the coronavirus.
- Researchers have said studies out of France and China are inadequate because they did not include control groups.
- Fauci and others have said much more data is needed to prove that hydroxychloroquine is effective against the coronavirus.
- As part of his role, Navarro has been trying to source hydroxychloroquine from around the world. He’s also been trying to ensure that there are enough domestic production capabilities inside the U.S.
Fauci’s mention of anecdotal evidence “just set Peter off,” said one of the sources. Navarro pointed to the pile of folders on the desk, which included printouts of studies on hydroxychloroquine from around the world.
- Navarro said to Fauci, “That’s science, not anecdote,” said another of the sources.