Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci left the hosts of Fox & Friends disappointed and frustrated Friday when he threw cold water on their insistence that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is a game-changing cure for the coronavirus.
Citing a recent poll showing that 37 percent of doctors around the world feel the drug is currently the most effective treatment of COVID-19, co-host Steve Doocy added that frequent Fox News guest Dr. Mehmet Oz recently touted a small Chinese study that found the drug had some efficacy in treating the virus.
Doocy went on to play a clip of Dr. Oz wondering whether Fauci was impressed with the results of that study. The Fox host asked the top physician to respond to the TV doctor.
“That was not a very robust study,” replied Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force. He also pointed out that while there’s still a possibility of a “beneficial effect,” the scale and strength of the evidence is not “overwhelmingly strong.”
“But getting back to what you said just a moment ago that ‘X percent’—I think you said 37 percent—of doctors feel that it’s beneficial. We don’t operate on how you feel. We operate on what evidence is, and data is,” he continued. “So although there is some suggestion with the study that was just mentioned by Dr. Oz—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, meanwhile, 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 prevented 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 then jumped in, suggesting 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.”
While President Donald Trump and many Fox News personalities have been bullish on the possibility that the drug is a miracle cure for the virus, Fauci has repeatedly attempted to temper expectations, noting that the benefits have largely been anecdotal and that there are other studies showing no noticeable effects at all.
This isn’t the first time that pro-Trump Fox News hosts have tried to get Fauci to boost hydroxychloroquine. Laura Ingraham, who has been at the forefront of touting the drug, asked the doc last week if he would take it if he were stricken with the virus. Fauci, for his part, said only if it were part of a clinical trial.