White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro was pressed about the Trump administration’s “false claims” about convalescent plasma as a treatment for coronavirus patients.
On Tuesday, Navarro appeared on MSNBC where host Andrea Mitchell questioned him about Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Dr. Stephen Hahn’s recent apology.
On Monday, Hahn made remarks about the benefits of convalescent plasma while disregarding the risks associated with the treatment.
Mitchell said, “He, along with the president, Secretary Azar, on Sunday night said that out of 100 people with COVID, 35 were saved by convalescent plasma in a study.”
She continued, “He now says that the criticism of those false claims, exaggerated claims, was entirely justified. That he should have said that there is a relative risk reduction, not an absolute reduction, and in fact the study was only a subset of a subset, not a randomized study.”
Mitchell went on to express her concerns about the White House’s emergency authorization of convalescent plasma.
“Now you are a PhD, an economist, you are an expert, you know a statistics inside and out,” Mitchell said, adding, “Emergency approval of using plasma this way reduces the possibility of having a proper randomized study and it falsely inflates hopes.”
Navarro responded by saying he doesn’t “accept that premise” while describing Mitchell’s remarks as “crazy talking points.”
Not deterred, Mitchell asked Navarro whether or not Hahn was incorrect.
“Well, that’s what every expert, that’s what Mayo, the Mayo clinic, which did the study is saying that, and Dr. Hahn is saying that,” Mitchell continued, as Navarro continued his attempts to interrupt. “Is Dr Hahn, let me just get my question out, is Dr. Hahn wrong?”
See Mitchell and Navarro’s exchange below:
“I thought that was the question,” Navarro said, to which Mitchell quickly interjected saying, “No, the question is, Dr Hahn has said that he was wrong to say this.”
“On the issue of not being able to do randomized trials, I mean what is the calculus here, are we going to wait to use something that can save thousands of lives just so we can have a study that tells us what we already know, which is that convalescent plasma works?” a frustrated Navarro said.
Mitchell fired back at Navarro as she reminded him of the purpose of tests and studies of vaccines: to develop a measure of effectiveness.
“Yes, that is scientific practice, sir,” Mitchell said as Navarro spoke. “Excuse me, that is the way vaccines and drugs are approved. That’s the test, effectiveness is the test.”
“Andrea Andrea Andrea, this is an important debate for the American people and your viewers to have,” Navarro interrupted. “Do you want to wait for a therapy which likely works, to get these scientific studies which are going to take three, six months or whatever, or do you want to do the right to try?”
Mitchell reiterated that none of the previous scientific studies focused on the novel coronavirus. She also reminded Navarro that approved drugs have only been tested for other diseases.
Navarro’s MSNBC appearance comes just one day after Hahn’s apology. On Monday, the FDA chief tweeted a statement addressing the concerns about his remarks.
I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified. What I should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction.
— Dr. Stephen M. Hahn (@SteveFDA) August 25, 2020
As The Trump administration continues its efforts to expedite a coronavirus vaccine, the United States’ case count continues to rise. As of Tuesday afternoon, the country has over 5.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a death toll of 181,637.
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