U.S. President Donald Trump and his top White House aides have aggressively renewed their promotion of hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for Covid-19, as the administration seeks to shift blame for the resurgence of the coronavirus less than 100 days before the November election.
Despite robust medical research showing the decades-old antimalarial is not helpful to Covid-19 patients and could even have adverse effects, Trump and his allies have attacked the Food and Drug Administration for warning against its use and touted the drug as a potential way to tame the pandemic.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro led the charge Wednesday with his continued defense of hydroxychloroquine in defiance of scientific evidence. But he declined to address the presidents praise for a Houston-area physician who falsely claimed the drug was a coronavirus cure and has promoted other conspiracy theories related to alien DNA and demon sperm.
In an interview on CNN, Navarro argued “there are two gigantic sides” to the hydroxychloroquine debate — even though the FDA withdrew its emergency-use authorization for the drug last month and at least three new studies have found it to be an ineffective treatment.
Navarro, who is assisting with the administrations coronavirus vaccine development efforts and coordination of the supply chain for personal protective equipment, has clashed repeatedly with public health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the countrys top infectious disease expert, over the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine since the early days of the pandemic.
“Im pleading with you and the American people to look at this drug again,” Navarro said. “Because I literally have tens of millions of tablets sitting in the Strategic National Stockpile that — if we were allowed under the doctors advice to get this stuff to people at the first sign of their symptoms — I guarantee you it would cut the amount of time of the symptoms, reduce the duration of the symptoms and save lives.”
Navarros advocacy on behalf of hydroxychloroquine has ramped up since a study conducted earlier this month by the Henry Ford Medical Center suggested the drug could help mildly ill patients recover faster from Covid-19. But experts have noted that patients who participated in the trial, which did not include a placebo control group, were not randomized and that many were also on steroids known to help with inflammation.
Meanwhile, video has circulated widely among conservatives on social media this week of Stella Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, championing hydroxychloroquine the U.S. Supreme Court. After Trump retweeted an excerpt of her speech late Monday, Twitter flagged the post and removed it from the presidents feed. The company also restricted Donald Trump Jr.s account Tuesday because he shared a version of the same video.
Immanuel has claimed that alien DNA is being used in medicine, that scientists are working to create a vaccine to prevent people from being religious, and that certain gynecological problems are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches, according to a report Tuesday by The Daily Beast.
Immanuel subsequently tweeted her approval of the story, writing online that “The Daily Beast did a great job summarizing our deliverance ministry and exposing incubus and succubus. Thank you daily beast. If you need deliverance from these spirits. Contact us.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday outside the White House, Trump said he was “very impressed” by Immanuel and thought “she made sense” in her viral remarks. “She was making a statement about hydroxychloroquine with other doctors that swear by it. They think its great. So she was not alone,” he said.
“With hydroxy, all I want to do is save lives. I dont care if its hydroxy or anything else. All I want to do is save lives. If we can save lives, thats great,” Trump added, describing himself as a “believer” in the drug and asserting that “many, many people agree with me.”