During Sunday’s coronavirus press conference, President Donald Trump blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci from answering a question about an unproven treatment for coronavirus that Trump has been touting.
As The Washington Post reports, the president repeated his claims that an anti-malarial drug is worth trying out, asking, “what do we have to lose?”
In response to Trump’s repeated mentioning of the drug, a CNN reporter pushed Fauci on the question, asking the respected immunologist his thoughts on hydroxychloroquine, which has been shown in some small trials to be effective against the coronavirus but has failed to be effective at all in others.
“What is the medical evidence?” the reporter asked.
Fauci prepared to answer the question, but before he could speak, Trump stepped in.
“Do you know how many times he’s answered that question?” He said. “Maybe 15.”
The reporter pushed Trump, saying he was asking Fauci the question because he was the medical expert.
“You don’t have to ask the question,” Trump insisted, and the press conference moved on.
Andrew Freedman, a reporter at the Washington Post, called the moment “chilling… from a science standpoint.”
This is a really chilling moment from a science standpoint, with Trump having just pushed an unproven #covid treatment and Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, getting muzzled on live TV. Was clear Trump didn’t want to be contradicted. https://t.co/yA4r25nhWP
— Andrew Freedman (@afreedma) April 6, 2020
While Fauci has answered the question several times, he and the president remain at odds over the medication.
In the past, Fauci has expressed the need for caution, saying that the drug could prove to be useful against the coronavirus but that it’s too early to tell.
“There have been cases that show there may be an effect and there are others to show there’s no effect, so I think in terms of science, I don’t think we can definitely say it works,” he said.
Other doctors have said that they wouldn’t prescribe the medication to their patients yet because it can have potentially fatal side effects. The drug can cause heart problems that can be fatal in those who have heart issues or are taking drugs that impact the heart’s rhythm.
But Trump and several people in his administration have conveyed the message that the drug could be part of the solution to the devastating pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for use against COVID-19 on an emergency basis, despite a lack of scientific consensus on its efficacy.
“What do I know? I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense,” Trump said at one point.
For his part, Fauci has said that while the president does listen to him on important matters, he can’t force Trump not to speak.
“I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down,” he said.