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Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump’s Advisers Spar Over Untested Drug

For the second straight day, the president pushed the use of hydroxychloroquine, which has not been proven effective in treating the coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain has been hospitalized for testing.
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Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that as many as half the people infected with the coronavirus may not have any symptoms, a much larger estimate than had previously been given.

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Debate roils White House over an untested drug the president insists on promoting.

President Trump doubled down Sunday on his push for the use of an anti-malarial drug against the coronavirus, issuing medical advice that goes well beyond scant evidence of the drug’s effectiveness as well as the advice of doctors and public health experts.
Mr. Trump’s recommendation of hydroxychloroquine, for the second day in a row at a White House briefing, was a striking example of his brazen willingness to distort and outright defy expert opinion and scientific evidence when it does not suit his agenda.

Mr. Trump suggested he was speaking on gut instinct, and acknowledged he had no expertise on the subject.
“But what do I know? I’m not a doctor,” Mr. Trump said, after recommending the anti-malaria drug’s use for coronavirus patients as well as medical personnel at high risk of infection.
“If it does work, it would be a shame we did not do it early,” Mr. Trump said, noting again that the federal government has purchased and stockpiled 29 million doses of the drug.
“What do you have to lose?” Mr. Trump asked, for the second day in a row.
When a reporter asked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to weigh in on the question of using hydroxychloroquine, Mr. Trump stopped him from answering. As the reporter noted that Dr. Fauci was the president’s medical expert, Mr. Trump made it clear he did not want the doctor to answer.
“He’s answered the question 15 times,” the president said, stepping toward the lectern where Mr. Fauci was standing.

On Saturday, Dr. Fauci had privately challenged rising optimism about the drug’s efficacy during a meeting of the coronavirus task force in the White House’s Situation Room, according to two people familiar with the events. The argument was first reported by the website Axios.
Peter Navarro, the president’s trade adviser who is overseeing supply chain issues related to the coronavirus, plopped a sheaf of folders on the table and said he had seen several studies from various countries, as well as information culled from C.D.C. officials, showing the “clear” efficacy of chloroquines in treating the coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci pushed back, echoing remarks he has made in a series of interviews in the last week that rigorous study is still necessary. Mr. Navarro, an economist by training, shot back that the information he had collected was “science,” according to the people familiar with what took place.
Dr. Megan L. Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University in Rhode Island, said in an interview on Sunday night that she had never seen an elected official advertise a miracle cure the way Mr. Trump has done.
“There are side effects to hydroxychloroquine,” Dr. Ranney said. “It causes psychiatric symptoms, cardiac problems and a host of other bad side effects.”
Dr. Ranney said hydroxychloroquine could be effective for some patients, but there wasn’t nearly enough scientific evidence to support Mr. Trump’s claims.
“There may be a role for it for some people,” she said, “but to tell Americans ‘you don’t have anything to lose,’ that’s not true. People certainly have something to lose by taking it indiscriminately.”

Two weeks ago, the American Medical Association discouraged the off-label use of hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and azithromycin to treat Covid-19 and the stockpiling of those medications. Mr. Trump has promoted all three medications.
Last month, an Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized after officials said they treated themselves with a deadly home remedy for the coronavirus — a popular fish tank additive that has the same active ingredient as an anti-malaria drug.

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