U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci resisted efforts by Republicans to criticize recent protests against racial injustice while pushing back on their continued promotion of hydroxycholoroquine as a possible coronavirus remedy in Congress on Friday. Fauci’s testimony at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis came at the end of a month in which U.S. coronavirus deaths rose by almost 25,000 and cases doubled in at least 18 states, according to a Reuters tally, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of quickly reopening the economy.
Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri submitted into the record a study conducted at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit showing benefits to treating some coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine, best known as an anti-malaria drug. “That study is a flawed study,” said Fauci, stressing it wasn’t a randomized, placebo-controlled trial and that patients also received corticosteroids, which in a separate study exhibited benefits for seriously ill patients. When confronted with the fact it was peer-reviewed, Fauci demurred. “It doesn’t matter. You can peer review something that’s a bad study,” he said. U.S. President Donald Trump, some Republicans in Congress and several conservative media commentators have consistently pushed for the drug’s use.
Early in the session, Fauci clashed with Rep. Jim Jordan, after the Ohio Republican demanded Fauci’s opinion about whether protests should be curbed or eliminated to control the pandemic. When Fauci said he was not in a position to make such a recommendation, Jordan retorted: “You make all kinds of recommendations. You make comments on dating, on baseball and everything you could imagine.” “I’m not favouring anybody over anybody,” Fauci replied. “I’m not going to opine on limiting anything.… I’m telling you what is the danger, and you can make your own conclusion about that. You should stay away from crowds, no matter where the crowds are.” Fauci also resisted efforts by Democrats to criticize the Trump administration response to the virus, frequently handing off questions about the current state of testing and other matters to his fellow panellists.