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Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci left the hosts of Fox & Friends disappointed and frustrated Friday when he threw cold water on their insistence that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is a game-changing cure for the coronavirus.Citing a recent poll showing that 37 percent of doctors around the world feel the drug is currently the most effective treatment of COVID-19, co-host Steve Doocy added that frequent Fox News guest Dr. Mehmet Oz recently touted a small Chinese study that found the drug had some efficacy in treating the virus.Doocy went on to play a clip of Dr. Oz wondering whether Fauci was impressed with the results of that study. The Fox host asked the top physician to respond to the TV doctor.“That was not a very robust study,” replied Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force. He also pointed out that while there’s still a possibility of a “beneficial effect,” the scale and strength of the evidence is not “overwhelmingly strong.”“But getting back to what you said just a moment ago that ‘X percent’—I think you said 37 percent—of doctors feel that it’s beneficial. We don’t operate on how you feel. We operate on what evidence is, and data is,” he continued. “So although there is some suggestion with the study that was just mentioned by Dr. Oz—granted that there is a 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.”Co-host Brian Kilmeade, meanwhile, pushed back against the disease expert, claiming a large percentage of doctors in other countries are now prescribing the drug to treat coronavirus. He then speculated as to whether those taking the drug for other conditions were prevented from infection of COVID-19.Seth Meyers Exposes Fox News’ Sean Hannity Over Huge Coronavirus ‘Hoax’ Lie“I would be very curious, doctor, to see if anyone who was taking this for lupus or arthritis has gotten the coronavirus, that would be one way to go the other way to see about this study,” Kilmeade wondered aloud.“I mean, obviously this is a good drug in many respects for some of the diseases you mentioned, and the one thing we don’t want to happen is that individuals who really need a drug with a proven indication don’t have it available,” Fauci responded, adding that it doesn’t matter if a large percentage of doctors “think that it works.”Co-host Ainsley Earhardt then jumped in, suggesting that “Democratic leaders” are preventing patients from receiving hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease and asking Fauci what could be done to make sure we’re giving it to everyone in need.“Well first of all, this is an approved drug for another indication, and doctors can, and the FDA has made it very clear that doctors can prescribe it on what we call off label,” he explained. “There’s no inhibition for that. So a considerable amount of drug was made available, as you remember, just a few days ago. But the FDA was very clear that they’re not going to be inhibiting anyone from doing an off label prescription of the drug. So they’re free to do that if they want to.”While President Donald Trump and many Fox News personalities have been bullish on the possibility that the drug is a miracle cure for the virus, Fauci has repeatedly attempted to temper expectations, noting that the benefits have largely been anecdotal and that there are other studies showing no noticeable effects at all.This isn’t the first time that pro-Trump Fox News hosts have tried to get Fauci to boost hydroxychloroquine. Laura Ingraham, who has been at the forefront of touting the drug, asked the doc last week if he would take it if he were stricken with the virus. Fauci, for his part, said only if it were part of a clinical trial.Dr. Anthony Fauci: I Don’t Want to ‘Embarrass’ TrumpRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Here's one more issue to add to the bonfire of tensions with China brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The country is reportedly reopening its wet markets, the fresh produce stalls associated with Covid-19's early spread in Wuhan.It's understandable that countries now in the grip of the first wave of infection might be outraged. Many blame wet markets for starting the outbreak in the first place. Opening them again, at a moment when thousands are dying overseas, seems emblematic of Beijing's increasingly chauvinistic approach to world affairs.Animals in wet markets are penned and slaughtered or sold live right next to stalls selling fruit and vegetables. Conditions, as my colleague Adam Minter has written, are often less than hygienic.Places where a range of common and exotic animals mix together while bodily fluids flow freely may seem a fertile breeding ground for the virulent novel diseases that cross the species barrier to humans and occasionally become pandemics.At the same time, let’s put the outrage on pause. Wet markets are increasingly losing ground to supermarkets in China. If they're showing resilience as suppliers of fresh goods, it's precisely because consumers regard them as a healthier and more sustainable alternative.That perception isn't inaccurate. The prevalence of food-borne microbial illness in developing East Asia suggests that far from being cesspits of disease, wet markets do a good job of providing households with clean, fresh produce. And while the origins of coronavirus remain obscure, they may have at least as much to do with more worldwide activities such as intensive farming as practices specific to Asia.The attraction of wet markets isn't so different from that of farmers’ markets in Western countries. In contrast to a supermarket model where multiple layers of retailers, wholesalers and logistics companies stand in between the consumer and the grower, wet markets offer a personal and direct connection between shopper, stallholder and farmer.Consumers know the food is fresh because there's generally little refrigeration, so everything must be sold on the day. If in doubt, they can ask the stallholder what's in season and which produce is best at the moment. If they think one market looks unsanitary, they can choose to shop at another.That helps explain how wet markets have managed to hold their own in spite of the growth of store-based retail in recent years. Supermarkets now account for about half of all grocery spending in China, up from about 36% in 1995, according to Euromonitor International. Add in convenience stores and the like and so-called modern grocery has about 68% of China's retail wallet, giving wet markets less than a third.Still, that store-based spending is overwhelmingly concentrated in packaged, rather than fresh produce. Foreign retailers that once hoped to dominate China's staple goods sector such as Carrefour SA and Metro AG have struggled and sold out of local ventures — but wet markets are still going strong.The evidence suggests this consumer loyalty isn’t misplaced. One 2015 study for the World Health Organization compared the number of years of life lost per 100,000 people due to food-borne sickness, disability and death. The region encompassing the wet market zone from China and South Korea down through most of Southeast Asia has the best record for microbial infections outside the Americas, Europe and the rich countries of the Pacific Rim.(1)What about Covid-19 itself, though? There's good evidence that the virus has genetic characteristics from another pathogen found in pangolins, an exotic mammal sometimes sold in Chinese markets. And it circulated extensively around one of Wuhan's seafood and meat markets last December, although the earliest infections don't seem to have been connected to the site.Only a small minority of wet markets sell such exotica, though, so you can close down the wild animal trade without shutting the places where most Chinese people get their daily sustenance. And don't overlook the possibility that a key ingredient in Covid-19's genetic cocktail isn’t wild game, but domesticated livestock. The high-density conditions on farms are far more conducive to cooking up novel diseases, as we've written — and even pangolins are farmed in China these days.To the extent that the mix of the raw and the cooked in Asia's wet markets is a health problem, it can easily be mitigated by better building design (such as separating meat, vegetable and livestock areas and keeping markets fully enclosed), plus the sort of mandated cleaning regulations found in places like Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.There's plenty to complain about in the way that China downplayed and hushed up the initial outbreak until it was all but inevitable it would become a worldwide pandemic. Closing all wet markets, though, isn't the solution. (1) Indeed, the data suggest the problem with Asia's appetite for "warm meat" isn't that fresh-slaughtered produce is less healthy than the chilled meat from an abattoir, but that local preferences for undercooked meat and fish lead to unusually high burdens of tapeworms, flukes and other parasitic worms. That's not something different retail formats can solve.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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