A week after appearing to project a more serious tone about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump is back to pushing unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug is an effective treatment and challenging the credibility of the nation's leading infectious disease expert. Dr Anthony Fauci pushed back on Tuesday, saying he will keep doing his job.
Numerous studies, meanwhile, have shown that the drug, hydroxychloroquine, is not an effective treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. And the US Food and Drug Administration recently withdrew an order that allowed the drug's use as an emergency treatment for COVID-19.
Yet overnight, after returning from a trip to North Carolina where he promoted efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, Trump retweeted a series of tweets advocating for hydroxychloroquine.
The president also shared a post from the Twitter account for a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, a former top White House adviser to Trump, accusing Fauci of misleading the public over hydroxychloroquine.
Fauci, a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, pushed back Tuesday during an appearance on ABC's “Good Morning America.” “I go along with the FDA,” said Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.” It's not the first time Fauci has come under attack from Trump and those close to him.
The president's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who has clashed with Fauci over hydroxychloroquine, recently penned a scathing attack on the doctor that was published by USA Today. The newspaper later said the opinion piece did not meet its standards.
In recent nationally televised interviews, Trump himself has described Fauci as “a bit of an alarmist” and accused him of making “mistakes” in his coronavirus guidance to the American people.
Asked if he can continue to do his job when Trump continues to publicly question his credibility, Fauci said Tuesday he'll press ahead “no matter what" because of the stakes involved.
“I don't tweet. I don't even read them, so I don't really want to go there,” Fauci said.
“I just will continue to do my job no matter what comes out because I think it's very important. We're in the middle of a crisis with regard to an epidemic, a pandemic. This is what I do. This is what I've been trained for my entire professional life and I'll continue to do it.”
Asked about claims he's been misleading the public, Fauci said: “I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.