Vice President Mike Pence joined by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force listen as President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during a coronavirus update briefing Sunday, March 29, 2020, in the Rose Garden at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

By Jon Dougherty @TheNatSent

(TNS) Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become a coronavirus task force rock star.

He appears daily with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Dr. Deborah Birx, among others, to update the country about the status of, and progress being made against, the pandemic in the United States.

He has gone on a number of news programs, where he has made statements downplaying and even opposing the use of currently-available antimalarial drugs including hydroxychloroquine even on an experimental basis to treat coronavirus patients, despite the fact that thousands of doctors and immunologists around the world have said the treatment shows promise.

In some cases, physicians have gone on record stating unequivocally that hydroxychloroquine is a solid, effective treatment for the virus.

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A trio of medical studies point to a medication that is used to treat malaria as being effective in treating at least some coronavirus cases, according to Watts Up With That.

The studies “show a commonly available anti-malaria drug known as chloroquine aka chloroquine phosphate is showing strong results against COVID-19 infections in both China and South Korea,” the site notes, citing information contained in a report published by Nature.

The summary of one of those studies was presented by Dr. James M. Todaro, MD and Gregory J. Rigano, Esq., “In consultation with Stanford University School of Medicine, UAB School of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences researchers,” and it says:

Recent guidelines from South Korea and China report that chloroquine is an effective antiviral therapeutic treatment against Coronavirus Disease 2019.  Use of chloroquine (tablets) is showing favorable outcomes in humans infected with Coronavirus including faster time to recovery and shorter hospital stay.  

US CDC research shows that chloroquine also has strong potential as a prophylactic (preventative) measure against coronavirus in the lab, while we wait for a vaccine to be developed.  Chloroquine is an inexpensive, globally available drug that has been in widespread human use since 1945 against malaria, autoimmune and various other conditions.

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None of this data or these testimonials appear to have phased Fauci, who continues to call for a national shutdown of the country and our economy.

On Friday, Fauci provided an unenthusiastic explanation of his views on HCQ as a coronavirus treatment when he appeared on “Fox & Friends.”

The hosts pointed out that a recent Sermo poll involving more than 6,000 physicians in 30 countries, in which 37 percent rated HCQ as the “most effective therapy” in treating the novel coronavirus.

Fauci yawned.

“We don’t operate on how you ‘feel,’” he said, pointing out that the survey measured feelings or opinions. “We operate on what evidence is and data is.”

Oh, really?

Then the hosts played a clip of Dr. Mehmet Oz asking Fauci directly for his thoughts about HCQ’s promise as suggested in a “Chinese study from Wuhan, reflecting statistically significant improvement in recovering from fever, from cough, and from pneumonia as well.”

“That was not a very robust study,” Fauci replied. “It is still possible that there is a beneficial effect, but the study that was just quoted, on a scale of strength of evidence, that’s not overwhelmingly strong. It’s an indication, a hint of it.”

“So although there is some 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. We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove that any intervention, not just this one, but any intervention is truly safe and effective.”

This doesn’t sound at all like the Dr. Fauci of 2013, when he was all-in for using well-established drugs in an experimental fashion to treat the last pandemic, SARS.

USA Today reported in April 2013:

Scientists may have found a treatment for a deadly new coronavirus — which causes severe, acute respiratory symptoms — first diagnosed in a patient from Qatar in September.

The treatment, a combination of two already-approved antiviral drugs, has been tested so far only in cells in lab dishes, according to the study in Scientific Reports. …

Scientists found that a combination of the antiviral drugs ribavirin and interferon-alpha 2b can stop the virus from reproducing in lab-grown cells, says lead author Darryl Falzarano of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s lab in Hamilton, Mont.

That’s particularly encouraging, because these drugs, now used to treat hepatitis C, are widely available, says Anthony Fauci, director of the infectious-disease institute, which financed the research.

“We don’t have to start designing new drugs,” a process that takes years, Fauci says. “The next time someone comes into an emergency room in Qatar or Saudi Arabia, you would have drugs that are readily available. And at least you would have some data.”

Even though the treatment hasn’t gone through definitive trials, Fauci says, “if I were a physician in a hospital and someone were dying, rather than do nothing, you can see if these work.”

My, what a difference two outbreaks make.


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