Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro roundly dismissed concerns from the nation’s top infectious-disease expert on an unproven coronavirus drug while touting his own qualifications as a “social scientist” on Monday, adding that he knows “how to read statistical studies.”
Over the weekend, it was reported that Navarro clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci over the efficacy of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. Navarro reportedly attacked the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director at the White House for questioning his knowledge of science as he promoted the drug’s potential.
During a CNN interview Monday morning, Navarro essentially confirmed the heated debate indeed took place while lauding the drug as an effective treatment of COVID-19. Asked by anchor John Berman about the disagreement he had with Fauci, Navarro quickly pointed to a small study in China that shows some possible efficacy as a source of some of the tension.
“There was that discussion on Saturday, and if we didn’t have disagreement or debate in the Trump administration, this administration would not be as strong as it is,” Navarro added.
Berman, meanwhile, noted that Fauci himself has urged caution on the Chinese study’s findings while saying there are other studies that haven’t shown much effectiveness.
“So why is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead infectious-disease doctor in this country, wrong about this?” Berman wondered aloud.
“I’ll let him speak for himself, but I’ll have two words for you: second opinion,” the Trump aide replied. “In terms of the studies that exist, I think you would grant me that there are numerous studies on this, which show preliminary therapeutics.”
The CNN host cut Navarro off, asking him what exactly were his qualifications to take on a top medical expert on matters of medicine and disease.
“Doctors disagree about things all the time,” Navarro said. “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.”
The economist went on to tout the opinion of a doctor who had recently misrepresented his qualifications to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, eventually resulting in Ingraham being forced by Twitter to remove a tweet celebrating hydroxychloroquine’s supposed miraculous healing effects at a New York hospital.
Berman would continue to confront Navarro on his qualifications and expertise on coronavirus and the drug, eventually prompting Navarro to ask the CNN anchor whether he’d take the hydroxychloroquine if he were sick.
“I would listen to my doctor about whether or not I should take it,” Berman said, adding, “I would not listen to someone involved with trade policy.”
At the end of the segment, meanwhile, Berman took great offense when Navarro suggested that he actually didn’t want people to recover from the disease.
“We all want the same thing, which is people to get better,” Berman declared, causing Navarro to snarkily reply, “I’m not sure we do sometimes.”
“Don’t you dare,” the CNN anchor shot back, noting he currently has two colleagues who have been stricken with the disease.
Navarro pleaded innocent, claiming Berman was putting words in his mouth and didn’t let him finish his sentence while insisting he was just trying to show a “false dichotomy.”