As Trump Pushes Drug for Virus, Friction in White House

Outlets report argument between Fauci, trade adviser Navarro over hydroxychloroquine
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2020 5:37 AM CDT
Inside White House, Friction Over Malaria Drug
President Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House Saturday, April 4.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Trump over the weekend continued his strong push for the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. "What do you have to lose?" Trump asked both Saturday and Sunday, per the New York Times. He cited "very strong, powerful signs" of its effectiveness, adding, "We don’t have time to go and say, ‘Gee, let’s take a couple of years and test it out.'" He pointed out that the federal government has stockpiled 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills and said he would consider taking the drug himself. "But what do I know? I’m not a doctor," Trump said. The sentiment, however, is far from unanimous at the White House. Both Axios and CNN report that tempers flared at a White House Situation Room meeting Saturday between Dr. Anthony Fauci, who thinks more study is needed, and top trade adviser Peter Navarro.

By both accounts, Navarro came into the meeting with paperwork he said backed up the idea that hydroxychloroquine is a proven treatment for COVID-19. "What are you talking about?" asked Fauci, per CNN. The question reportedly angered Navarro, whose role in the virus response is to help coordinate the efforts of private companies. VP Mike Pence tried to play peacemaker. "It was pretty clear that everyone was just trying to get Peter to sit down and stop being so confrontational," a source tells Axios. The Times talks to a doctor who points out that hydroxychloroquine has side effects including cardiac and psychiatric issues. “There may be a role for it for some people,” said Dr. Megan Ranney of Brown University in Rhode Island, “but to tell Americans ‘you don’t have anything to lose,’ that’s not true. People certainly have something to lose by taking it indiscriminately.” (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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