White House economic adviser Peter Navarro said President Trump was correct to talk about "the possibility" that the long-used anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine can treat some symptoms of the coronavirus. Notably, Navarro did not deny a report from Axios that he got into an argument with Dr. Fauci about recommending hydroxychloroquine during a White House coronavirus task force meeting this weekend.
CNN's John Berman pressed Navarro about his (or the president's) qualifications to weigh in on the use of any medication.
"The issue wasn't about me offering my medical opinion," Navarro said. "The question was whether we should take the 29 million doses in the FEMA storehouses and surge them into the zones, and it was unanimous in that task force meeting to do so. So, that's the only question I posed."
"You may find this interesting," he told the CNN host. "In the city that you live in, in New York, in the New York health and hospitals system, virtually every patient now that comes in presenting COVID-19 symptoms is given a cycle of hydroxychloroquine, and when I discussed this last night with Mitch Katz, who is the head of that system, I asked him, are you doing that because the federal government is telling you or because you think it may work? And he said quite clearly that it may work."
JOHN BERMAN, CNN: Very well. Thanks for being with us. We've been listening to a report and reading it all morning long about a disagreement in the situation room between you and dr. Anthony Fauci about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine. Can you explain to me the nature of this disagreement?
PETER NAVARRO: Let me focus on the issue at hand. Does hydroxychloroquine work? That was the subject in the task force meeting this Saturday. The facts of the matter are the following:
First of all, FEMA has 29 million tablets sitting in a warehouse, that's number one.
Number two, John, at the task force meeting there was unanimous agreement that FEMA would immediately begin surging hydroxy into the hot zones to be dispensed only between a doctor and patient decision, not the federal government. That's number two.
Number three, you may find this interesting in the city that you live in, in New York, in the New York health and hospitals system, virtually every patient now that comes in presenting COVID-19 symptoms is given a cycle of hydroxychloroquine, and when I discussed this last night with Mitch Katz, who is the head of that system, I asked him, are you doing that because the federal government is telling you or because you think it may work? And he said quite clearly that it may work.
The fourth fact I want to say, and then we'll get to the politics of this, the fourth fact I want to say is that there are now numerous scientific studies that indicate potential efficacy, including, John, and this is important, the study that was just published in the last few days from Wuhan.
Which is one of the first randomized studied with a control group and it showed very clearly that 80% in the control group did very well versus fifty. There was that discussion on Saturday and if we didn't have disagreement and debate in the Trump administration, this administration would not be as strong as it is.
BERMAN: I'm not interested in the politics of it, only interested in the science of it. When you talk about that study out of Wuhan, yes, that was the only study we've seen so far with a control group. It wasn't double-blind which means the doctors using it knew who was getting it. It was also with only moderately ill patients...
BERMAN: Why should we listen to you and not Dr. Anthony Fauci?
NAVARRO: So you presented a false case there. Basically what I have said and the only thing I have said is that the scientific studies that I have seen point to the possibility that it has both therapeutic efficacy as well as possible prophylactic efficacy. When you speak to doctors and nurses on the front lines ask how many of them are taking hydroxy as a prophylactic in the war zone.
This is a situation where this drug could save lives and I think there needs to be a debate and you're right that I'm not the arbiter of this, but there's a lot of doctors out there who are on one side and there's a lot of doctors on the other side. There's science going on. We are at war here, and what we're trying to do is make sure as few people die as possible, and I look at a study just this latest one, I read it, and from Wuhan and there's a control group where 80% do well and only 50% don't. I mean, you could be a plumber and read that and come to the same conclusion, John. I don't know why you're so hard about this? Would you take it if you got sick?