White House Spokesperson Accuses Media of Trying to 'Create Soap-Opera-Like Drama' Between Trump and Dr. Fauci

A White House spokesperson struck out at the media on Monday, accusing journalists of trying to "create soap-opera-like drama" between President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, Trump faced criticism after repeatedly championing hydroxychloroquine as a promising treatment for the coronavirus, despite repeated warnings from Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that there is not yet sufficient evidence to suggest the drug is an effective treatment for COVID-19.

"It's a great malaria drug. It's worked unbelievably. It's a powerful drug on malaria. And there are signs that it works on this, very strong signs," Trump said of hydroxychloroquine at Sunday's White House briefing on the U.S.' efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

"There are some very strong, powerful signs and we'll have to see," the president asserted.

Later, he urged people in the U.S. without heart problems to consider trying the drug, questioning: "What do you have to lose?"

Asked on Monday why the president continued to promote the treatment, despite Fauci's repeated warnings regarding the drug, White House spokesperson told Newsweek that there is "no daylight between" the doctor and Trump's stances on hydroxychloroquine.

"The media's constant efforts to create soap-opera-like drama between President Trump and Dr. Fauci is embarrassingly absurd," Gidley said.

"There is no daylight between them on this issue as both men have been clear about the need to consult your doctor before taking hydroxychloroquine," the White House spokesperson said.

The White House has also pointed to the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency did issue emergency use authorization allowing patients to use hydroxychloroquine in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump and Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks alongside President Donald Trump at a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on April 5, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Discussing the emergency use authorization during a White House briefing on Saturday, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said the agency was "prioritizing this drug to come in for clinical trials, and also into general use for physicians, because as you know, physicians, based upon their interaction with the patients, their assessment of the risks and benefits can write a prescription for hydroxychloroquine if they think it's appropriate for the patient."

"Being a physician, we do this all the time. And that assessment needs to be done between a patient and a doctor," Hahn said.

The FDA commissioner also made clear that the agency had "wanted to make sure that these drugs were in the circulation-in the supply chain, so that people who have them or need them for the other indications—lupus, rheumatoid arthritis—had them available."

"So, that was the purpose of the emergency use authorization," Hahn said.

In a statement sent to Newsweek on Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that "although hydroxychloroquine has been used to treat some people with COVID-19, more data is needed to prove that the treatment can improve outcomes in people with COVID-19."

"Large randomized, controlled clinical trials are the gold standard for determining if a treatment can benefit patients," the institute explained.

"NIAID is in the planning stages for a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine and will provide more information about the study when it begins," it said, adding that NIAID is also "researching other therapies for COVID-19, including broad-spectrum antivirals and antibodies."

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.