Flashback: When Media Ripped Trump for Touting Remdesivir

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Posted: May 01, 2020 9:50 AM
Flashback: When Media Ripped Trump for Touting Remdesivir

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Trump can't win. Even when he touts treatments for the coronavirus that have shown positive results, he gets ripped in the headlines. He had high hopes for hydroxychloroquine because of some promising trials and anecdotal success stories, including the miracle recovery of Michigan state representative Karen Whitsett, who thanked Trump for saving her life. Thousands of doctors agreed that HCQ could have a real impact in combating the illness.

Now the other drug he touted, remdesivir, is showing promise of its own. 

“There are promising therapies produced by Gilead, and that’s remdesivir," Trump said on March 19. "Remdesivir.  And that’s a drug used for other purposes that’s been out and has had very good results for other purposes, but it seems to have a very good result, having to do with this virus.”

At the time The Los Angeles Times said he was in over his head:

In both cases, the president overstated the speed and scope of elements of his administration’s response to the crisis, part of a pattern of overselling that has been a frequent part of his presidency.

Neither of the two drugs Trump mentioned is a proven treatment for COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus, and neither is likely to be publicly available in the near future, as the head of the FDA said in gently walking back part of Trump’s comments, which painted a far rosier picture.

Others mused that Trump was just trying to sound smart.

The USA Today editorial board called him a "snake oil salesman."

"If Donald Trump wasn't quite the quintessential snake-oil salesman at a news briefing this week and on Twitter Saturday — touting preliminary and even unproven medical remedies to the new coronavirus pandemic — he came disturbingly close."

The editors added that Trump was only pitching remdesivir so he could sweep his "glacial" rollout of coronavirus tests under the rug. 

"Maybe clinical trials of these therapies will show promising results," USA Today asked at the time. "We surely hope so." 

Well, their wish came true. As Dr. Fauci noted this week, the recent placebo controlled study of remdesivir sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which he directs, found a 31 percent improvement on recovery time for coronavirus patients. Fauci said this was "good news" that his team can build on to find an even more effective treatment. And he suspects that the FDA will soon approve an emergency authorization for the antiviral drug.

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Will these editors refresh their memories and laud Trump for his foresight? Or at least issue any retractions or apologies?

Interestingly, when Dr. Fauci touted Remdesivir in February, the press didn't question that it could be a potential treatment it and printed it as news. So it's only when Trump says it, it can't be true.

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