“Do you know how many times he’s answered that question?” Trump
A tight smile stretched across Fauci’s face. His eyes, framed by a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, flicked quickly to Trump. He glanced back at the reporter, who was saying to the president, “The question is for the doctor. … He’s your medical expert, correct?”
The unexpected interruption was an extraordinary moment even in this season of brash behavior exhibited by the president during his daily briefings. While Trump has been at odds with Fauci in the past, repeatedly clouding his administration’s public health messaging, the president has never shut down his top medical expert so abruptly and publicly before, intervening to keep him from answering. In other contexts, the president routinely calls on Fauci for medical questions.
But had he been permitted to speak, Fauci’s answer, which he’s given many times, likely would not have tempered Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement of the anti-malarial drug as a potential treatment for
Virtually every time, Fauci has warned that there is so far no definitive medical proof that the drug is an effective treatment and has cautioned that it is still being studied.
“As I’ve said many times
Separately, the president of the American Medical Association, Patrice Harris, told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on Sunday that she would not prescribe
“You could lose your life,” Harris said. “It’s unproven. And so certainly there are some limited studies, as Dr. Fauci said. But at this point, we just don’t have the data to suggest that we should be using this medication for
The different messaging about the drug from the president and his top medical expert sets up a potentially confusing clash of advice on the pandemic. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency approval to the Trump administration’s plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial
Trump on Sunday said “we have no time” to do lengthy studies
“What do I know? I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense,” he added.
He has put more stock in
But those optimistic statements
Fauci has repeatedly found himself tasked with trying to keep Trump’s statements rooted in fact — a role that often puts the scientist in the awkward position have
“I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down,” Fauci said, referring to Trump. “Okay, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time.”
Though Fauci stressed in the March Q&A that Trump does listen to him “on substantive issues” related to
Since mid-March, Trump has privately and publicly pushed unproven or experimental drugs as “cure-alls,” The Washington Post reported. Trump has on some
One person familiar with official
On March 24, for example, Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked Fauci if he would “feel comfortable” taking
“I’m a believer in a clinical trial,” he responded. “I might take one of those drugs, but I’d do it within the auspices of a controlled clinical trial.”
Then in a Friday appearance on “Fox and Friends,” Fauci pushed back against the mention of a small study conducted in
“That was not a very robust study,” Fauci said, noting that while “it is still possible that there is a beneficial effect,” the research was only “an indication, a hint of” the drug’s potential efficacy.
He was equally skeptical of another study brought up by host Steve Doocy in which researchers surveyed 6,200 doctors in 30 different countries and found that 37 percent of respondents chose the medicine as the “most effective therapy” for
“Thirty-seven percent of doctors feel that it’s beneficial,” Fauci said. “We don’t operate on how you feel. We operate on what evidence is and data is.
“I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” he continued. “We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one,
The battle between Fauci and Trump’s allies touting the promise of the anti-malarial drugs appeared to come to a head over the weekend, culminating in what Axios described as an “epic White House fight.” The heated confrontation reportedly played out between Fauci and the president’s economic adviser, Peter Navarro, who touted various studies on the drug that Fauci has found insufficient, according to the Sunday report from Axios citing anonymous sources, which was later corroborated by the New York Times.
But Fauci isn’t the only medical expert who has attempted to temper efforts to push unproven drug therapies for
In a joint statement last month, the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists said they “strongly oppose” prescribing and hoarding medications that may be used to treat the virus.
James Phillips, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, told CNN in a recent interview that not enough information is currently known to make any medical recommendations.
“It’s a dangerous message for someone without a medical license to get up there and tell people to try it,” Phillips said, according to the Guardian. “You need to listen to physicians, people who understand science, before you go willy-nilly into the medicine cabinet.”
But on Sunday, as the number of
“The only tool, but the best tool, we
On this note, Trump nodded in agreement.