Renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was forced to respond to claims made by the host of Fox & Friends over their insistence that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is a game-changing cure for the coronavirus.
On Friday morning’s edition of the program, co-host Steve Doocy began his interview of Dr. Fauci by citing a recent poll of doctors that found 37 percent said hydroxychloroquine was “the most effective therapy amongst COVID-19 treaters from a list of 15 options.”
Doocy added that frequent Fox News guest Dr. Mehmet Oz recently touted a small Chinese study of 61 patients that found the drug had some efficacy in treating the virus.
The Fox host went on to play a clip of Dr. Oz before prompting Fauci to respond to the TV doctor.
“That was not a very robust study,” Fauci said of the trial that Dr. Oz cited, adding that “on a scale of strength of evidence, that’s not overwhelmingly strong,” but that the study “is an indication, a hint” of the drug’s potential efficacy against the coronavirus.
“But getting back to what you said just a moment ago, that x percent, I think you said 37% of doctors feel that it’s beneficial, we don’t operate on how you feel. We operate on what evidence is, and data is,” Fauci said. “So although there is some suggestion with the study that was just mentioned By Dr. Oz, I’m in 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 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 protected from infection of COVID-19.
“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 suggested 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.”
Brian Kilmeade tried to Foxsplain unproven coronavirus drug treatments to Dr. Anthony Fauci. It did not go great. pic.twitter.com/xthBbdJgHT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 3, 2020