'I don't agree with Fauci on everything': Trump contradicts White House experts on hydroxychloroquine

President says drug 'politically toxic' after White House officials told US to 'move on' from unverified claims

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 03 August 2020 16:30 EDT
Trump 'doesn't agree with Fauci on many things' and responds to US coronavirus death toll with 'fake news'

Donald Trump has continued to promote the use of an unproven drug to treat Covid-19 patients despite White House officials denying its efficacy.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and a member of the White House task coronavirus force, has rejected claims that hydroxychloroquine is effective as a treatment for the coronavirus.

Assistant health secretary Dr Brett Giroir, who is leading the administration's Covid-19 testing response, told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that "evidence just does not show" that the drug is "effective right now" – days after the president defended a controversial doctor who claimed that the drug is a "cure" for the disease.

"Most physicians and prescribers are evidence-based, and they're not influenced by whatever is on Twitter or anything else," Admiral Girar said. "We need to move on from that and talk about what is effective."

But on Monday, the president claimed the drug has "tremendous support" but is "politically toxic" because he supported its use.

"If I would've said, 'Do not use hydroxychloroquine, under any circumstances,' they would've come out and said it's a great thing," he said.

More than 150,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimated as many as 180,000 people will succumb to the illness by the end of August, with up to 11,000 deaths a week by that time.

The president claims that he took a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for two weeks as a preventative treatment.

On Wednesday, Dr Fauci said that "valid" science shows that the anti-malaria drug is "not effective" against Covid-19 following clinical trials to determine whether it can be used to treat the disease caused by the coronavirus.

"I don't agree with Fauci on everything," the president said on Monday. "It doesn't mean he's a bad person ... But we disagree on things."

Hydroxychloroquine 'not effective' and US needs to 'move on' White House task force member says

Last week, the president shared a viral video to his 85 million Twitter followers that called the drug "a cure for Covid" and declared that "you don't need a mask" to prevent transmission. The video was later labelled as containing misleading information before it was taken down.

The president also shared a video of Dr Fauci attributing the rise in confirmed US cases – which have reached 4.7 million – to the nation's resistance to "shut down" its economy at the onset of the pandemic, while other countries "did it to the tune of about 95 per cent plus."

"Wrong!" the president replied, before falsely claiming that the US has more cases because the country tested more people than others.

"If we tested less, there would be less cases," he said.

Roughly 60 million people have been tested for coronavirus in the US, with a nearly 9 per cent positivity rate, according to the CDC. Prolonged wait times have delayed results for many Americans for up to a week or longer. The CDC has reported that the actual infection rate in the US is likely 10 times higher than the rate confirmed by tests.

Admiral Giroir has urged that turnaround times be reduced.

Asked by CNN's Jim Acosta why the nation's death toll has climbed past 150,000, the president responded "fake news CNN."

"We have done a great job in this country," the president said, pointing to recent spikes in infections in other countries.

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