Adm. Brett Giroir, director of U.S. coronavirus diagnostic tests, testifies during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Work and Pensions (HELP) on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, on June 30, 2020.
Kevin Dietsch | Reuters
Brett Giroir, the deputy health minister who coordinates the government's coronavirus tests, said on Sunday that there is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine is an "effective" treatment for COVID-19, despite President Donald Trump's repeated use of the drug over objections Experts.
In an interview on "Meet the Press," Giroir did not specifically mention the president, but made it clear that the scientific consensus is that the drug does not help treat the disease.
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"Most doctors and prescribers are evidence-based and are not affected by anything on Twitter or anything else, and the evidence simply doesn't show that hydroxychloroquine is currently effective," he said.
"We have to keep going and talk about what is effective," he added, referring to public hygiene measures such as hand washing and mask wearing, as well as treatments such as remdesivir and steroids.
"There were five randomized controlled placebo-controlled studies at this time that showed no benefit for hydroxychloroquine, so we do not recommend this as treatment at this time."
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Trump has been convinced that hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, could help treat the disease. In May, he said he had been taking the unproven treatment prophylactically for two weeks.
While the Food and Drug Administration briefly gave the drug an emergency approval that allowed it to be used to treat COVID-19, the FDA revoked that approval in June. When the approval was lifted, it was noted that "a large, randomized clinical trial in hospital patients found that these drugs showed no benefit in reducing the likelihood of death or speeding up recovery".
Despite similar statements from public health officials and a warning from the FDA about using the drug outside of a hospital setting because of the risk of serious heart problems, Trump has remained steadfast in increasing the drug.
Last week Trump retweeted a video from a Houston area doctor who advocated the use of the drug and called it a cure for coronavirus. Twitter removed the video describing it as "violating our COVID 19 misinformation policy" and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said the video "said something that is not true".
But Trump defended his decision to share the video during a White House press conference, saying, "I happen to believe it." He was later asked to respond to the doctor's earlier statements, including blaming demonic property for certain medical problems.
"She was on the air with many other doctors," said Trump. "They were fans of hydroxychloroquine, and I found them very impressive in the sense that – from where they came, I don't know which country they come from – she said she had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. and I thought her voice was an important voice. But I don't know anything about her. "