Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir pushed back against President Donald Trump’s obsession with unproven anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine on Sunday, stating unequivocally that he “can’t recommend” the drug as a coronavirus treatment and that it’s time to “move on” from it.
Over the past week, the president and his allies have renewed their embrace of the controversial medication after a fringe group of doctors touted it as a coronavirus “cure” in a viral video. Trump continued to endorse the video even after finding out that Dr. Stella Immanuel, one of the most outspoken members of the group, claimed that “alien DNA” was in medicine and some female medical problems are caused by demon sex.
Giroir, however, refused to back the president’s support for hydroxychloroquine during a Meet the Press interview while pointing to a plethora of studies that show the drug is largely ineffective in treating COVID-19.
“Look, I know you’re not a political person, but the president continues to advocate for hydroxychloroquine,” NBC News anchor Chuck Todd asked on Sunday. “Is that a danger to public health?”
The coronavirus testing czar noted that the anti-malarial drug at first “looked very promising” as a coronavirus treatment before explaining that a number of randomized clinical trials since then have now revealed there “is no benefit.”
“At this point in time, we don’t recommend that as a treatment and there’s no evidence to show that it is,” he added.
Todd, meanwhile, wondered aloud if Giroir was “concerned” that the administration’s “mixed messaging” on the drug is “going to continue to sort of create this fog” about the drug’s efficacy.
“So hydroxychloroquine needs to be prescribed by a physician,” the HHS official replied. “There may be circumstances, and I don’t know what they are, where a physician may prescribe it for an individual.”
“But I think most physicians and prescribers are evidence-based and they’re not influenced by whatever’s on Twitter or anything else and the evidence just doesn’t show that hydroxychloroquine is effective right now,” he continued. “I think we need to move on from that and talk about what is effective.”
Giroir went on to say that the most effective methods of stemming the spread of the virus are social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing while touting advances in therapeutics and potential vaccines.