Following a very contentious interview, CNN’s John Berman had with White House trade advisor Peter Navarro over the push by Donald Trump to use an anti-malarial drug treat coronavirus victims, Dr. Sanjay Gupta added his two cents and said administration officials need to slow down while testing is still going on.
Speaking with host Berman, Gupta said that hydroxychloroquine has some applications that might prove helpful but not enough testing has been done.
Asked his impression after Navarro suggested “they don’t want to wait for the clinical trials, they want to get this into the bodies of patients and the hands are doctors right now,” Gupta replied, “It’s a total clash here. Of course everybody would love for a therapeutic to get out there, and to work. I mean, you know, when I say everyone, I mean everyone on the planet wants this, something to work at some point. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know if hydroxychloroquine works. We don’t even know if maybe it works for some people and not others. Could it make some people worse?”
“This is a medication that seems to suppress your immune system,” he explained. “That’s why it works for patients, for example, of autoimmune diseases. If you’re somebody who needs a strong immune system because you’re elderly and your immune system has not been working well, would you want to suppress that person’s immune system? Probably not. I don’t know. Nobody knows and that’s sort of the point.”
“You want to do the studies here,” he recommended. “Could it be harmful to some people? Possibly and that would be obviously a terrible outcome. We don’t know the dosing that should be given, we don’t know the duration that should be given.”
“This is an immunosuppressant drug — it might suppress the immune system. Why would you suppress the immune system? It might make sense if the immune system is overreacting — that could be happening in a population of patients and could be that overreaction of the immune system that could be making people critically ill and causing death — but in someone who doesn’t have an overreacting immune system it could make things worse again,” he elaborated. “I don’t want to dive too much into the weeds here, but that gives you a little bit of a sense of what clinicians are trying to debate, what they’re trying to figure out. Am I dealing with an overreactive immune system? Am I dealing with a virus that is replicating and causing multiple system organ failure? What exactly is happening here? I have no other options. Maybe I should try this.”
“Perhaps that is happening sometimes in the form of a clinical trial, but this is a confusing thing to just basically say can’t hurt, might help, why not?” he added. “That’s not true.”