(USA Features) White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said he is asking for a “second opinion” on whether a controversial antimalarial drug ought to be used to treat coronavirus patients.
The request comes after Navarro reportedly had a disagreement about using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, who says there is no “strong evidence” saying it is effective.
Navarro supports the widespread distribution of hydroxychloroquine after scores of doctors worldwide have said it shows promise in treating the illness.
The trade adviser was asked on CNN’s New Day why the public should listen to him instead of the top infectious disease expert in the nation.
“I’ll let him speak for himself, John, but I would have two words for you: second opinion,” Navarro said. “And in terms of the studies that exist, I think you would grant me that there are numerous studies on this, which show preliminary therapeutics.”
“Let me suggest, John, that later in the day, you have William Grace on, another famous doctor in the city of New York,” Navarro continued after anchor John Berman asked him what qualifications he has to discuss the drug.
“He has, he can talk eloquently about this. But John, doctors disagree about things all the time,” Navarro continued.
“My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist. I have a Ph.D., and I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics, or whatever,” he added.
Berman argued what Navarro said does not “qualify you to treat patients.”
President Trump has been vocal in his support for using the drug to treat coronavirus patients.
“We have it stockpiled — about 29 million doses. We have a lot of it. We hope it works,” Trump said.
A report Sunday noted that in 2013, Fauci supported using an experimental drug and treatment for MERS, a similar coronavirus that emerged in the Middle East.
“Scientists may have found a treatment for a deadly new coronavirus — which causes severe, acute respiratory symptoms — first diagnosed in a patient from Qatar in September,” USA Today reported in April 2013. “The treatment, a combination of two already-approved antiviral drugs, has been tested so far only in cells in lab dishes, according to the study in Scientific Reports.”
At the time, Fauci supported use of the treatment.
“We don’t have to start designing new drugs,” a process that takes years, Fauci says. “The next time someone comes into an emergency room in Qatar or Saudi Arabia, you would have drugs that are readily available. And at least you would have some data.
“If I were a physician in a hospital and someone were dying, rather than do nothing, you can see if these work,” he said, though clinical trials had not been tried at the time.