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- President Donald Trump on Sunday did not let Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, weigh in on what he thought about using hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, on patients with COVID-19.
- Cutting across Fauci, who did not speak until late in the press conference at the request of a reporter, Trump said: "He answered that question 15 times."
- The US government had stockpiled 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills for treatment, despite having only anecdotal evidence so far of their effect on COVID-19. The drug is usually used for malaria or lupus, but it is among several drugs being researched as treatments for the novel coronavirus.
- Trump's dismissal came a day after the coronavirus task force was said to have had a confrontation over the way the White House should characterize hydroxychloroquine.
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President Donald Trump on Sunday told reporters he wasn't a doctor as he promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used for malaria or lupus, to treat COVID-19 patients. But when Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked for his opinion, Trump would not let him speak.
At a White House press briefing on Sunday night, Trump repeatedly spoke about using the drug on COVID-19 patients despite little clinical evidence that the pills are effective against it. He told reporters he backed the drug as he said: "I'm not a doctor. I have common sense."
The US government has stockpiled 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills, and Trump said it was a good option for treatment in lieu of a vaccine. Hydroxychloroquine is among numerous drugs researchers are testing as COVID-19 treatments.
"I'm trying to save lives," Trump said. "I want them to try it, and it may work and it may not work." Several times, he rhetorically asked: "What do you have to lose?"
But when a reporter at the briefing asked Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, what he thought, Trump did not let him speak.
"He answered that question 15 times," Trump said, cutting the reporter off, before the press conference moved on. Fauci never answered.
Fauci took the lectern late in the conference and hadn't spoken before the reporters began asking questions.
Hydroxychloroquine, specifically the way US officials should characterize it, was said to be at the center of a confrontation within the White House coronavirus task force at a meeting on Saturday.
Citing an unnamed source, Axios reported that Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who has been trying to source the drug, told the task force that overseas studies showed the drug had "clear therapeutic efficacy."
Fauci, a member of the task force, disagreed and said there was only anecdotal evidence, according to Axios. Navarro, an economist, reportedly pointed to a stack of documents he had brought to the meeting and told Fauci, "That's science, not anecdote."
The conversation apparently grew heated before the leading participants ultimately agreed that "the administration's public stance should be that the decision to use the drug is between doctors and patients," according to Axios.
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