It’s been found that seven years ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed that he was encouraged by lab tests involving a combination of drugs that included hydroxychloroquine in antiviral experiments on a SARS-like coronavirus that had emerged at the time. Some observers are seeing that as puzzling.
Fauci, NIAID director and current Coronavirus Task Force rock star, has long been widely looked to as the nation’s ultimate authority on infectious diseases. As such, his record and history of public comments are especially subject to scrutiny and critiques at a time such as the current societal upheaval sweeping the globe.
An ongoing point of contention being amplified by the media is Fauci’s cautious present-day perspective on the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, while so many others are eager to embrace the encouraging indicators of its potential effectiveness against today’s novel coronavirus.
Fauci, now so sour on hydroxychloroquine (+/- azithro) for covid19, despite its clinical promise, gushed in 4/2013 when a coronavirus [MERS] antiviral combo [ribavirin /interferon-alpha)] tested “only in cells in lab dishes” prevented viral replication! https://t.co/c9aN1b0nvZ pic.twitter.com/KBTLDUeIUW
— Andrew Bostom (@andrewbostom) April 4, 2020
President Trump has repeatedly expressed his hope for hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), even as Fauci has been careful to temper Trump’s enthusiasm for the drug’s prospects.
Dr. Fauci quickly corrects Trump’s misstatements about hydroxychloroquine pic.twitter.com/Piim1PQSdh
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 20, 2020
FAUCI: “The president feels optimistic about something — his feeling about it.” pic.twitter.com/wNzgV7P6EF
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 20, 2020
On Friday, Fauci provided a nuanced explanation of his views on HCQ as a coronavirus treatment when he appeared on “Fox & Friends.”
Brian pushes back, saying civilians & drs in some countries are taking HCQ for coronavirus, and wondering if people already on it are getting the virus. Fauci says “we really don’t care” if people *think* it works, “that’s not the issue,” & we should protect those already on it. pic.twitter.com/iPDDBLDhRV
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) April 3, 2020
The Fox News hosts directed Fauci’s attention to a recent Sermo poll of more than 6000 physicians in 30 countries in which 37 percent rated HCQ as the “most effective therapy” in treating the novel coronavirus.
“We don’t operate on how you ‘feel,'” Fauci commented, pointing out that the survey measured feelings or opinions. “We operate on what evidence is and data is.”
“Fox & Friends” also played a clip of Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Öz directly asking for Fauci’s thoughts about HCQ’s promise as suggested in a “Chinese study from Wuhan, reflecting statistically significant improvement in recovering from fever, from cough, and from pneumonia as well.”
“That was not a very robust study,” Fauci replied. “It is still possible that there is a beneficial effect, but the study that was just quoted, on a scale of strength of evidence, that’s not overwhelmingly strong. It’s an indication, a hint of it.”
He added: “So although there is some suggestion that there is a benefit there, I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug. We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove that any intervention, not just this one, but any intervention is truly safe and effective.”
“But when you don’t have that information,” the doctor added, “it’s understandable, and I grant that … it’s understandable why people may want to take something anyway, even with the slightest hint of it being effective, and I have no problem with that.”
The 79-year-old Fauci has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, having served under six U.S. presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan.
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