Longtime National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has become a household name since being appointed to the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force earlier this year.
His prominent position has opened him up to criticism, however, including recent comments by Yale epidemiologist Dr. Harvey Risch in an interview with Just the News.
“Overwhelming prevailing clinical trials”
Risch argued that Fauci had been withholding the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug shown to have promising results in treating COVID-19 in some studies.
The remarks came on the heels of Fauci’s recent appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America during which he claimed that “the overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in [treating] coronavirus disease.”
In addition to his professorship, Risch also serves as the director of Yale’s Molecular Cancer Epidemiology Laboratory. He expressed his difference of opinion with Fauci in a recent Newsweek op-ed arguing for widespread availability of hydroxychloroquine.
“When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective,” he wrote.
Rather than concern about preventing the spread of the virus and ending a public health crisis, Risch believes that the drug is being downplayed because of politics.
“In the future, I believe this misbegotten episode regarding hydroxychloroquine will be studied by sociologists of medicine as a classic example of how extra-scientific factors overrode clear-cut medical evidence,” he added.
Risch labeled Fauci’s stance against wider use of the medication a “misinformation campaign.”
Nevertheless, he does advise against administering hydroxychloroquine indiscriminately, noting that sicker patients tend to experience a “poorer outcome for the medication” because they are not the ones who should be treated with it. Instead, he says it should be given as early as possible after a diagnosis and before the patient requires hospitalization.
“All we want is to show benefit under those conditions,” Risch said. “We don’t need to use this medication in the hospital because the whole point is to keep patients out of the hospital.”
President Donald Trump has faced criticism for his continued advocacy on behalf of the experimental treatment. As more medical professionals echo Risch’s position, however, the president might be vindicated after all.