Debate heats up over using an anti-malaria drug for COVID-19 Monday, 6 April 2020
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and members of his administration are growing emphatic in promoting an anti-malaria drug not yet officially approved for fighting COVID-19, even though scientists say more testing is needed before it’s proven safe and effective against the virus.

Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro promoted the drug, hydroxychloroquine, in television interviews Monday, a day after Trump publicly put his faith in the drug to lesson the toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

“What do I know, I’m not a doctor," Trump told reporters Sunday. "But I have common sense.”

The administration's promotion of the drug comes after a heated Situation Room meeting of the White House's coronavirus task force on Saturday, in which Navarro challenged the top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, over his concerns about recommending the drug based only on unscientific anecdotal evidence.

Navarro, who has no formal medical training, erupted at Fauci, raising his voice and claiming that the reports of studies he collected were enough to recommend the drug widely, according to a person familiar with the exchange who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the Situation Room blow-up.

Fauci has repeatedly said that current studies provide only anecdotal findings that the drug works. Navarro told CNN on Monday: "I would have two words for you: ‘second opinion.’”

Hydroxychloroquine is officially approved for treating malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, but not COVID-19. Small, preliminary studies have suggested it might help prevent the new coronavirus from entering cells and possibly help patients clear the virus sooner.

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