Scoop: Inside the epic White House fight over hydroxychloroquine

AXIOS

The White House coronavirus task force had its biggest fight yet on Saturday, pitting economic adviser Peter Navarro against infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci. At issue: How enthusiastically should the White House tout the prospects of an antimalarial drug to fight COVID-19?

Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump’s coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.

  • Numerous government officials were at the table, including Fauci, coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx, Jared Kushner, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and Commissioner of Food and Drugs Stephen Hahn.
  • Behind them sat staff, including Peter Navarro, tapped by Trump to compel private companies to meet the government’s coronavirus needs under the Defense Production Act.

Toward the end of the meeting, Hahn began a discussion of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump believes could be a “game-changer” against the coronavirus.

  • Hahn gave an update about the drug and what he was seeing in different trials and real-world results.
  • Then Navarro got up. He brought over a stack of folders and dropped them on the table. People started passing them around.
  • “And the first words out of his mouth are that the studies that he’s seen, I believe they’re mostly overseas, show ‘clear therapeutic efficacy,'” said a source familiar with the conversation. “Those are the exact words out of his mouth.”

Navarro’s comments set off a heated exchange about how the Trump administration and the president ought to talk about the malaria drug, which Fauci and other public health officials stress is unproven to combat COVID-19.

  • Fauci pushed back against Navarro, saying that there was only anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine works against the coronavirus.
  • Researchers have said studies out of France and China are inadequate because they did not include control groups.
  • Fauci and others have said much more data is needed to prove that hydroxychloroquine is effective against the coronavirus.
  • As part of his role, Navarro has been trying to source hydroxychloroquine from around the world. He’s also been trying to ensure that there are enough domestic production capabilities inside the U.S.

Fauci’s mention of anecdotal evidence “just set Peter off,” said one of the sources. Navarro pointed to the pile of folders on the desk, which included printouts of studies on hydroxychloroquine from around the world.

  • Navarro said to Fauci, “That’s science, not anecdote,” said another of the sources.

Navarro started raising his voice, and at one point accused Fauci of objecting to Trump’s travel restrictions, saying, “You were the one who early on objected to the travel restrictions with China,” saying that travel restrictions don’t work. (Navarro was one of the earliest to push the China travel ban.)

  • Fauci looked confused, according to a source in the room. After Trump imposed the travel restrictions, Fauci has publicly praised the president’s restriction on travel from China.
  • Pence was trying to moderate the heated discussion. “It was pretty clear that everyone was just trying to get Peter to sit down and stop being so confrontational,” said one of the sources.
  • Eventually, Kushner turned to Navarro and said, “Peter, take yes for an answer,” because most everyone agreed, by that time, it was important to surge the supply of the drug to hot zones.
  • The principals agreed that the administration’s public stance should be that the decision to use the drug is between doctors and patients.
  • Trump ended up announcing at his press conference that he had 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in the Strategic National Stockpile.

Between the lines: “There has never been a confrontation in the task force meetings like the one yesterday,” said a source familiar with the argument. “People speak up and there’s robust debate, but there’s never been a confrontation. Yesterday was the first confrontation.”

  • In response to a request for comment on Axios’ reporting, Katie Miller, a spokesperson for the vice president, said: “We don’t comment on meetings in the Situation Room.”

The bottom line: The way to discuss the drug’s potential has become a fraught issue within the Trump administration.

  • Most members of the task force support a cautious approach to discussing the drug until it’s proven.
  • Navarro, on the other hand, is convinced based on his reading that the drug works against the coronavirus and speaks about it enthusiastically.
  • Some of Trump’s favorite TV hosts, including Fox’s Sean Hannity, and friends including Rudy Giuliani, have also been touting the malaria drug for the coronavirus. Trump has made no secret who he sides with.
  • “What do you have to lose? Take it,” the president said in a White House briefing on Saturday. “I really think they should take it. But it’s their choice. And it’s their doctor’s choice or the doctors in the hospital. But hydroxychloroquine. Try it, if you’d like.”
April 6, 2020 | 5 Comments » | 459 views

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. Of course there was a heated debate!! The CDC has been politicized and wants an expensive mandated vaccine – it does not want the simple remedy of a cheap, readily available generic drug that is easily prescribed by private physicians to their sick patients. CDC projections are based on politicized data that is skewed to produce alarming statistics. Why? Fear is the most powerful motivator of human behavior. Fear can easily be exploited to drive people to willingly surrender freedom for the promise of safety. In Henry Kissinger’s own words.

    “Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government.”

    The CDC is informed by data and projections of “experts” including debunked Brit Neil Ferguson’s wildly exaggerated projections; University of Washington globalist Christopher Murray of the Bill Gates funded IHME; the globalist UN health agency the WHO run by China’s puppet Tedros – all pushing the UN 17 sustainable goals that seek to establish a new world order of an internationalized one-world government. This is political medicine – not medical science!

    Bill Gates is already calling for a digital certificate to identify who received the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. Peter Navarro shares President Trump’s commitment to American sovereignty and America-first policies. Of course there was a fight over hydroxychloroquine – the drug is the epicenter of the fight between national sovereignty and globalism.

  2. From Linda Goudsmit

    Of course there was a heated debate!! The CDC has been politicized and wants an expensive mandated vaccine – it does not want the simple remedy of a cheap, readily available generic drug that is easily prescribed by private physicians to their sick patients. CDC projections are based on politicized data that is skewed to produce alarming statistics. Why? Fear is the most powerful motivator of human behavior. Fear can easily be exploited to drive people to willingly surrender freedom for the promise of safety. In Henry Kissinger’s own words.

    “Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government.”

    The CDC is informed by data and projections of “experts” including debunked Brit Neil Ferguson’s wildly exaggerated projections; University of Washington globalist Christopher Murray of the Bill Gates funded IHME; the globalist UN health agency the WHO run by China’s puppet Tedros – all pushing the UN 17 sustainable goals that seek to establish a new world order of an internationalized one-world government. This is political medicine – not medical science!

    Bill Gates is already calling for a digital certificate to identify who received the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. Peter Navarro shares President Trump’s commitment to American sovereignty and America-first policies. Of course there was a fight over hydroxychloroquine – the drug is the epicenter of the fight between national sovereignty and globalism.

  3. Right on, Linda! I agree 1,000%.,

    This Fauci is a very sinister, slimy character. On March 26 the New England Jornal of Medicine authored by Fauci and two other physicians which concluded that the novel coronavirus would”probably” result in only about as many illnesses and deaths as in an worse- than- usual flu season. A few days later he he told the President and the entire nation that there would be 200,000 deaths unless the country was locked down for a full year. Sometime earlier, he had predicted that two millionAmericans would die from the virus. He is clearly trying to scare the American people to submit to prolonged repressive measures that he knows are completely
    unnecessary.

    His efforts to prevent the American people from having access to drugs known to be effective in both treating and preventing coronavirus infections shows that he wants more, not less, Americans to die of infectious disease.
    If only Trump could see through this monstrous sadistic serial killer!

  4. “Bill Gates is already calling for a digital certificate”
    Why in the world Bill Gates is given so much power?
    So he and Melinda are obsessed with cutting down the world population and vaccinating everyone (possibly IN ORDER to cut down the world’s population).
    Why should his and Melinda’s views prevail?
    And why in the world the government should have anything to do with which medication its subjects are allowed to take? In an allegedly free country?

  5. Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a Ukrainian-born Orthodox Jew from New York who claims to have cured some 700 patients suffering from COVID- 19 using a malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine combined with other substances.

    Zelenko’s findings were first made public by Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity during an interview with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence.
    Sources in the administration told the Washington Post that the drug was tested on thousands of patients in serious condition. Zelenko said he has treated hundreds of New York ultra-Orthodox Jewish patients in moderate condition, most of them made a full recovery.

    Zelenko’s treatment, which includes a combination of anti-malaria medicine, vitamin supplements, zinc, and antibiotics.

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