Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday that trials have shown "consistently" that hydroxychloroquine is "not effective" in treating the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Fauci's comments came as President Donald Trump faces questions over his promotion Monday night of a now-deleted video in which a doctor claimed that the drug was a "cure" for COVID-19.
Speaking with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the data don't support the claim.
"The scientific data, the cumulative data on trials, clinical trials that were valid — namely, clinical trials that were randomized and controlled in the proper way — all of those trials show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or COVID-19," he said.
Describing the video Trump promoted as "a bunch of people spouting something that isn't true," Fauci said, "The only recourse you have is to be very, very clear in presenting the scientific data that essentially contradicts that."
Late Monday, Trump retweeted the video from the account @stella_immanuel, who wrote: "Covid has cure. America wake up."
The video showed a group calling itself America's Frontline Doctors standing in front of the Supreme Court. During her speech, Stella Immanuel, a Houston-based physician who describes herself on Twitter as a doctor and "God’s battle axe and weapon of war," claimed that hydroxychloroquine was a "cure" and said masks were no longer needed.
Multiple studies have disputed claims of hydroxychloroquine's efficacy when it is paired with other antiviral drugs. The Food and Drug Administration last month revoked an emergency approval that enabled doctors to prescribe the anti-malarial drug to COVID-19 patients even though it hadn't yet been approved for such use.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removed the video from their platforms — with Twitter removing the tweet Trump promoted and temporarily barring his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., from posting after he shared the same video.
Immanuel, a vocal supporter of Trump's on social media, has used Facebook and Twitter to spread conspiracy theories, including one that posits that the coronavirus was manufactured in China. She also operates the religious organization Fire Power Ministries from her clinic in Houston, where she posts videos expressing extreme beliefs, among them falsely attributing medical issues like miscarriages, gynecological problems and impotence to spiritual possession by demon spirits.
Addressing such comments at his briefing Tuesday, Trump said, "She was on air along with many other doctors."
"They were being fans of hydroxychloroquine, and I thought she was very impressive in the sense that — from where she came, I don't know which country she comes from — but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients, and I thought her voice was an important voice," Trump said after having called Immanuel "spectacular." "But I know nothing about her."
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Speaking Wednesday with reporters outside the White House, Trump echoed his earlier remarks, saying he was "very impressed with her and other doctors that stood with her."
"So what they did is they took down their voice," he said of social media companies. "Now, they seem to never take down the other side. They only take down conservative voices. It’s a shame."
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro lamented that he has "tens of millions of [hydroxychloroquine] doses sitting in the Strategic National Stockpile which I can't move."
"Do me a favor, let's think about Americans dying when bad stories get written about hydroxy," he said.