Apr 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Peter Navarro defends hydroxychloroquine use in heated CNN interview

White House economic adviser Peter Navarro defended the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus during a CNN interview Monday, highlighting "the possibility" that it has therapeutic efficacy.

Why it matters: Navarro did not deny reporting from Axios' Jonathan Swan that he got into a heated exchange in the White House Situation Room over the weekend with infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci about the drug's prospects against the illness.

  • During that meeting, Fauci pushed back against Navarro's claims that the drug shows "clear therapeutic efficacy" against COVID-19.
  • Fauci said that there was only anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine works against the coronavirus.
  • He and other medical experts have said much more data is needed to prove that the drug is effective.

Reality check: Researchers have said studies out of France and China are inadequate because they did not include control groups.

  • During both the Situation Room meeting and the CNN interview, Navarro offered those studies as proof of hydroxychloroquine's potential efficacy.

What he's saying: "The issue wasn't about me offering my medical opinion," Navarro told CNN's John Berman about the weekend Situation Room meeting.

  • "The question was whether we should take the 29 million doses in the FEMA storehouses and surge them into the zones, and it was unanimous in that task force meeting to do so. So, that's the only question I posed," he added.

Our thought bubble, via Swan: Navarro didn’t deny that the conflict happened, and the interview provided a little taste of what happened in the Situation Room. 

  • It highlighted exactly the kinds of arguments that my sources described him making this past weekend.

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