Ignoring Fauci, Trump and White House Hacks Tout Unproven Coronavirus Meds

Peter Wade

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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said that because he is a “social scientist,” his opinion about an unproven drug that carries serious risks for coronavirus patients should be taken seriously.

Navarro made the remark during a tense Monday morning interview on CNN. Host John Berman asked Navarro about a Saturday argument, first reported by Axios, between Navarro and infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci over how the administration would publicly discuss chloroquines and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

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According to the New York Times, Navarro attended the meeting of the coronavirus task force in the White House’s Situation Room because Trump has tasked him with securing chloroquines in order to make them available to caregivers.

After playing a video clip of Fauci warning against touting the effects of the unproven drug, Berman asked Navarro, “What are your qualifications to weigh in on medicine more than Dr. Anthony Fauci? Why should we listen to you and not Dr. Fauci?”

Navarro replied, “My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist. I have a Ph.D., and I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics, or whatever.”

Berman then told the president’s trade adviser, “I’m sorry, that doesn’t qualify you to treat patients.”

As they continued the debate over the ethicality of promoting the drug, Navarro claimed one “could be a plumber” and understand the study that he claims proves the drug’s effectiveness.

Navarro then asked Berman: “Would you take hydroxychloroquine if you got sick?”

Berman replied, “I would listen to my doctor, not someone involved with trade policy. Do you want a doctor striking trade deals?”

Navarro finally ceded ground, saying, “Touché.”

To which, Berman said, “That’s my point!”

What exactly Trump’s motives are to get behind the unproven coronavirus remedies remains to be seen. But between this weekend’s reported argument coming out of the White House, sending out Navarro to undermine Fauci’s advice on the topic is disturbing. Adding to that, Trump himself did not allow Dr. Fauci to comment on hydroxychloroquine when reporters asked about the administration’s insistence to promote the drug during a recent briefing and new reporting by the Washington Post tells of Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in the chloroquines game while attempting to “cast himself in a new role: as personal science adviser.” The whiff of a new grift is strong.

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