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Navarro: Yes, I'm Qualified to Disagree With Fauci

Trade adviser's justification: He's a social scientist
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2020 12:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – "Doctors disagree about things all the time." So explains the heated discussion between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Peter Navarro, PhD. The White House trade adviser said that and more when asked by CNN on Monday about a tense White House Situation Room meeting Saturday in which Fauci and Navarro reportedly clashed over the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. Navarro, who is coordinating the purchase and distribution of medical supplies under the Defense Production Act, reportedly showed up to the meeting with documents that he said attested to the drug's effectiveness; Fauci's response was something along the lines of "what are you talking about?" Coverage:

  • In his comments to CNN, Navarro elaborated, saying, "My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I'm a social scientist. "I have a PhD," he continued, with CNBC reporting it's an economics PhD from Harvard. "And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it's in medicine, the law, economics, or whatever."

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  • Fox News describes the CNN interview as getting heated, with Navarro asking host John Berman if he would take hydroxychloroquine if he was infected with COVID-19. "I would listen to my doctor," Berman replied. "I would consult my doctor… not someone involved with trade policy… do you want an internist striking trade deals?" "Touche," said Navarro, who told Berman that Berman was "setting up a false narrative."
  • In a subsequent Fox & Friends appearance, Navarro was again asked about the clash and distributing FEMA's supply of 29 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine. His response: "The task force unanimously voted to [distribute it], with the provision that this can have side effects and that it has to be dispensed not by the federal government but by the patient-doctor relationship. I think history will judge who is right on this debate but I’d bet on President Trump’s intuition."
  • Politico flags comments Fauci made on Face the Nation Sunday about how the data around hydroxychloroquine are "really just, at best, suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect, and there are others to show there's no effect. So I think, in terms of science, I don't think we could definitively say it works." It notes that Navarro was asked about that and responded that Fauci could "speak for himself," but "I would have two words for you: second opinion."
  • Another non-medical doctor who is actively pushing hydroxycholoquine: Rudy Giuliani. He tells the Washington Post that he's been pushing the medication in private phone calls with Trump, and that he spends much of the day doing the same with doctors, coronavirus patients, and hospital administrators on the other end of the line.
  • The Post article notes Gov. Andrew Cuomo also has spoken about the drug's potential. On Monday, the governor discussed tests with patients in New York, where doctors have been given the green light to use hydroxychloroquine in combination with an antibiotic. “There has been anecdotal evidence that it is promising," he said. "That’s why we’re going ahead." However, he added that it's been too short a time to have official data, per the Hill.
(Read more Peter Navarro stories.)

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