President Donald Trump personally intervened in the medical approval process, calling top officials from three of the nation’s leading federal government medical agencies to pressure them to allow drugs untested for use in treating the novel coronavirus to be used for that purpose.
Top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received telephone calls from the President of the United States, who “personally pressed” them to make the malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine available.
“Rarely, if ever, has a U.S. president lobbied regulators and health officials to focus their efforts on specific unproven drugs,” Reuters reveals in its exclusive report. “Shortly afterward, the federal government published highly unusual guidance informing doctors they had the option to prescribe the drugs, with key dosing information based on unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science.”
His calls launched a “cascade of federal action.”
Trump’s focus came after a Fox News interview in mid-March of a a lawyer the conservative cable network said was associated with a small French study, who said “we have strong reason to believe that a preventative dose of hydroxychloroquine is going to prevent the virus from attaching to the body and just get rid of it completely.”
Two days later, that same attorney, appears on Fox News again, declaring, the president “has the authority to authorize the use of hydroxychloroquine against coronavirus immediately.”
Just one day later Trump began his campaign to promote the malaria drugs, despite only anecdotal evidence and that one small French study.
“On March 19, Trump vowed to make the drugs more widely available. ‘It’s shown very encouraging – very, very encouraging early results,’ he said at a press conference. ‘And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that’s where the FDA has been so great. They – they’ve gone through the approval process; it’s been approved. And they did it – they took it down from many, many months to immediate.’
The drugs had not, in fact gone through the FDA’s “approval process” to treat coronavirus, nor had they been approved by the FDA to do so.
Two days after that. Trump posted these tweets:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2020
“Now, millions of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine pills are on their way to the public, donated by drugmakers, including Novartis’ Sandoz, Bayer and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. The FDA issued an emergency authorization on March 28 allowing them to be prescribed and distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile.”
‘The scariest jobs chart’: Economics columnist details the troubling signs lurking beneath the positive unemployment news
When President Donald Trump spoke at a press briefing in the White House Rose Garden on Friday, he bragged to reporters about the state of the economy.
“We’re going to have the strongest economy in the world,” he said. “We’re almost there now.”
But while there was unexpectedly good news released on Friday, columnist Catherine Rampell explained in her Washington Post column why it also came with troubling signs.
Bolsonaro threatens to quit WHO as Covid-19 kills ‘a Brazilian per minute’
President Jair Bolsonaro threatened on Friday to pull Brazil out of the World Health Organization after the U.N. agency warned Latin American governments about the risk of lifting lockdowns before slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus throughout the region.
A new Brazilian record for daily COVID-19 fatalities pushed the county's death toll past that of Italy late on Thursday, but Bolsonaro continues to argue for quickly lifting state isolation orders, arguing that the economic costs outweigh public health risks.
France commemorates D-Day without crowds amid pandemic
At daybreak on Saturday, Charles Shay stood lonesome without any fellow veteran on the very same beach where he waded ashore 76 years ago, part of one of the most epic battles in military history that came to be known as D-Day and turned the tide of World War II.
Compared to last year, when many tens of thousands came to the northern French beaches of Normandy to cheer the dwindling number of veterans and celebrate three quarters of a century of liberation from Nazi oppression, the coronavirus lockdown turned this year's remembrance into one of the eeriest ever.