PRESIDENT Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro claimed that he is qualified to disagree with coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci over coronavirus treatment drugs.
Navarro's claims in an interview with CNN's John Berman came on Monday, after he and the infectious disease expert reportedly butted heads over the weekend on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment.
Navarro said his "Ph.D" and ability to "read statistical studies" gives him the right to disagree with Fauci, who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than 35 years.
"Doctors disagree about things all the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I'm a social scientist," Navarro told CNN's New Day.
"I have a Ph.D. And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it's in medicine, the law, economics or whatever," he added.
When Berman told Navarro "That doesn't qualify you to treat patients," Navarro again defended himself.
"All I'm asking for you to understand, John, is that right in your city… virtually every patient… presenting the COVID-19 symptoms is given hydroxy," he told Berman.
"There are downsides to this – there can be in some cases – negative effects" he said.
"Basically what I have said.. is that the scientific studies I have seen point to the possibility that there is both therapeutic efficacy as well as prophylactic efficacy."
Prophylactic is defined as being used to prevent the spread of an infection or disease.
"Ask how many [doctors and nurses] are taking hydroxy in the danger, in the warzone," Navarro said.
"This is a situation where this drug could save lives.
"I think there needs to be a debate. And you're right that I'm not the arbitror of this," he added.
Axios reports disease expert Fauci and Navarro were at loggerheads over the recommendation to use hydroxychloroquine as a treatment on Saturday, with the top doc saying it was unproven and based on "anecdotal" evidence.
Navarro insisted hydroxychloroquine success was based on "science, not anecdote" during the heated exchange with Fauci at a task force meeting Saturday.
He then accused the baffled doctor of objecting to Trump's earlier travel restrictions on China in front of Dr Deborah Birx, Jared Kushner, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Axios revealed.
The clinical drug trials are ongoing but researchers cited inadequate studies in the China and France where control groups weren't included.
But the president said they didn't have time to wait around for "test tubes and the labs" yesterdy as the killer bug claims the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans and infected well over 300,000.
Trump said the FDA rapidly approved the emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine because it's been tried and tested, adding "what do you have to lose."
"I want people to live and I'm seeing people dying," he said Sunday. "I've seen people who are going to die without it […] As we speak, there are people dying."
Already, around 4,000 critical coronavirus patients in coronavirus epicenter New York are being treated, health officials told the New York Post.
Several in-state studies are in progress to see whether the pills can help to block the virus transmission.
There has been little evidence, however, proving the drug is effective, as one study published in late March said data showing the use of hydroxychloroquine and sister drug chloroquine for the coronavirus "are limited and inconclusive."
Trump said the US bought a "tremendous amount" – 29 million doses – during a Sunday COVID-19 press briefing, where he again touted the benefits of the medication, also used to treat lupus and arthritis.
The president cut Fauci off before he could clarify his viewpoint on hydroxychloroquine during the conference.
"There are signs that it works on this [coronavirus]," Trump told reporters, citing "strong and powerful signs" it worked. "It’s been around a long time.
"I’m not acting as a doctor, I'm saying 'do what you want,' but there some good signs."
"If it doesn’t work, nothing is lost by doing it," he added. "I want to save lives – I don’t wanna be in a lab for the next year-and-a-half.
"It can help them but it’s not going to hurt them."
Trump has repeatedly recommended taking the medication and even suggested he would be willing to take it.
On Saturday, the president pushed the potential merits of malaria treatment, saying himself it "might be correct, it might be false."
Some lab studies found hydroxychloroquine blocked COVID-19 from entering cells, but ongoing clinical trials have yet to produce any solid evidence, reports say.
Prolonged use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause an interrupted heartbeat in certain patients or even cardiac arrhythmia, according to medical literature cited by Reuters.
A new research paper says they may be risky for a critically ill person and neither have been tested to treat COVID-19, the publication notes.
Some people have argued that the handling of the virus needs to be left to doctors and scientists.
Republican West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito told reporters that Trump should let experts handle the outbreak.
"I think he should leave — let the health professionals guide where we're gonna go, Dr Fauci and Dr Birx," Capito said in regard to his daily press briefings, as reported by the Washington Post.
"And so sometimes I think it goes off the rails a little bit, but you know that's the way the president conducts business."
Advisors like Rudy Giuliani have also touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID patients after initially downplaying the seriousness of the virus.
The ex-NYC mayor has hailed the benefits of the malaria tablets on Twitter, saying "there is ZERO room for politics when American lives are on the line" and promoting a French study on it.
But back in March, Giuliani appeared to be unconcerned about the deadly affects of the virus when he compared the then 27 deaths to heart disease and flu.