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Fauci warns there’s no ‘strong’ evidence anti-malaria drug works on coronavirus

April 03, 2020 – 11:14 AM EDT

By JOE CONCHA

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Friday that there isn’t any “strong” evidence that an anti-malaria drug has proven effective in the coronavirus fight.

“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 definitely prove whether any intervention is truly safe and effective,” Fauci, who is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.”

Fauci’s comments came in response to a question about a recent poll of more than 6,700 doctors in 30 countries, with 37 percent of physicians saying they “felt” that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was the most effective for treating COVID-19 as cases.

“We don’t operate on how you feel, we operate on what evidence and data is,” Fauci said, adding that it was “not a very robust study” or “overwhelmingly strong.”

Hydroxychloroquine is primarily used to treat lupus and arthritis.

“Obviously this is a good drug for the many diseases you mentioned. What we don’t want to happen is individuals who truly need the drug with a proven indication don’t have it available,” he said.

President Trump previously touted hydroxychloroquine, combined with azithromycin, as a potential game changer. According to Trump @realDonalTrump: “HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents)…..”

Doctors in China reported this week that hydroxychloroquine “helped to speed the recovery of a small number of patients who were mildly ill from the coronavirus,” The New York Times reported.

“It’s going to send a ripple of excitement out through the treating community,” infectious disease expert William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University told the Times.

Larger clinical trials are already underway in the U.S., with some preliminary results expected in the coming days.

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