Trump Has ‘Financial Interest’ in Hydroxychloroquine Manufacturer

President Donald Trump has a “small financial interest” in the drugmaker of an anti-malarial drug that he has been touting as a “game changer” in treating coronavirus, according to The New York Times. Over the past two weeks, Trump and his Fox News allies have aggressively promoted hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure despite top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci urging caution and noting that there was not enough evidence of the drug’s efficacy.

The Times reports that the president’s family trusts all have investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi, the manufacturer of Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine. Associates of the president, such as major Republican donor Ken Fisher and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, have also run funds that hold investments in the pharmaceutical firm.

[The Daily Beast]

Trump Again Touts Hydroxychloroquine, Which Has Major Potential Side Effects, as COVID-19 Treatment

President Donald Trump is again touting a drug used to treat certain other diseases and says he may take it himself in hope that it will help fend off the new coronavirus.

Trump says “there’s a rumor out there” that hydroxychloroquine is effective, declaring “I may take it.”

He has often pointed to hydroxychloroquine as a possible cure and urged people to take it, despite more sober assessments of its effectiveness by medical professionals.

The drug has long been used to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Very small preliminary studies suggested it might help prevent coronavirus from entering cells and possibly help patients clear the virus sooner.

But the drug has major potential side effects, especially for the heart, and large studies are underway to see if it is safe and effective for treating COVID-19.

[Time]

Reality

After lying about it on Sunday, Trump on Monday repeats claim that New York asked for more ventilators than it will need

Speaking with the coronavirus task force in the White House Rose Garden on Sunday, March 29, President Donald Trump lied to PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor that he didn’t say that some equipment governors are requesting for their coronavirus responses is not actually needed (he had in fact said that to Fox’s Sean Hannity.)

The following day, Trump did a 54-minute interview on Fox & Friends, and he repeated his claim that some medical equipment requested by New York and other states won’t be needed, despite reports of widespread shortages of medical supplies, especially ventilators.

Predictably, none of the show hosts questioned him on his contradictory statements. 


DONALD TRUMP (PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES): We delivered 4,000 ventilators to New York to their warehouse which happens to be located, which is interesting, in Edison, New Jersey. It was signed off, they were delivered, and they weren’t used. And we said a number of days later, why aren’t you using these ventilators? I don’t know what happened but we delivered thousands of them and we’ve delivered them to a lot of people. You know, there’s a whole question about that. I think New York should be fine, based on the numbers that we see, they should have more than enough.
I mean, I’m hearing stories that they’re not used or they’re not used right but what we find anywhere from two to four thousand that have been sent and aren’t used, you know, we’ve done a job. Now we’re still getting more ventilators. We’re going to have — after this is over, we’ll be selling, they will be selling ventilators for $1 a piece. We’ll have a lot of them. But, you know, they have to build them because for the most part, the whole world is short on ventilators.

On March 28, The Washington Post reported that a recent batch of medical supplies sent from an emergency federal stockpile fell far short of what state leaders have requested — Massachusetts and Maine received about 17% and 5%, respectively, of protective gear they requested, and Colorado got enough supplies “for only one full day of statewide operations.” In contrast, Florida — home to a pro-Trump governor and electorate — is receiving three times the supplies it requested. (The Post did note however that aid disbursement does “not appear to follow discernible political or geographic lines.”)

Throughout March, Fox shows — that Trump obsessively watches — engaged in sensationalist coverage blaming Democratic-leaning states for the viral spread of COVID-19. One particular focal point was Trump favorite Tucker Carlson speculating that homeless people and their “filth” are to blame for spreading the virus in California. Trump also demanded on March 27 that governors should be grateful for any assistance the federal government provides. The same day Hannity said that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should stop “whining, bitching, and complaining” about a lack of medical supplies and instead “thank Donald Trump” for the help.

[Media Matters]

Trump Berates Reporter, Calls Her ‘Threatening’ For Asking About Comments He Made on Coronavirus

President Donald Trump berated PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor for a question she asked, at Sunday’s press conference on the coronavirus, regarding his war of words with U.S. governors.

In response, Trump bashed Alcindor in personal terms, billing her question as “threatening.”

“I have two questions,” the PBS reporter started. “The first is, you’ve said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don’t need.”

Trump cut in: “I didn’t say that.”

“You said it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News — you said that you might…” Alcindor replied before being interrupted.

“Why don’t you people act…why don’t you act in a little more positive?” Trump said. “It’s always trying to get you, get you. And you know what, that’s why nobody trusts the media anymore.”

“Excuse me, you didn’t hear me,” he continued, as Alcindor attempted to continue her question. “That’s why you used to work for Times, and now you work for somebody else. Look, let me tell you something, be nice. Don’t be threatening.”

“Be nice. Go ahead,” Trump added.

“My question is, how is that going to impact how you fill these orders for ventilators or masks?” Alcindor asked.

“We’re producing a tremendous number of ventilators,” Trump stated. “We’re doing a great job on it.”

Later in the exchange, Trump again called Alcindor’s question “threatening,” while also calling her a “fine journalist.”

“You know, when journalists get up and you’re a journalist, a fine journalist and ask questions that are so threatening, we’re all on the same team,” Trump stated.

Alcindor replied, “I was quoting you directly from your interview with Sean Hannity.”

Trump did make the comments that Alcindor asked him about. In an interview with Hannity this week, the president said of governors: “A lot of equipment is being asked for that I don’t think they will need.”

The PBS correspondent attempted to ask her second question, but Trump said, “That’s enough” and a White House staffer removed the microphone from Alcindor. It was later returned to her by CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond.

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump moves the coronavirus goal posts, pre-spinning 100,000 deaths as ‘a very good job’

On Feb. 26, when there were 15 reported cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, President Trump predicted the number of cases would soon be “down to close to zero.”

On March 5, he hailed the fact that there were about 3,000 deaths worldwide but only 11 in the United States.

On March 9, he noted that there were just 22 U.S. deaths and compared the virus to the seasonal flu, which has killed 37,000 people this year.

On March 13, he said the 2009 swine flu had killed 14,000 people in the United States and called the Obama administration’s response to it “a disaster.”

On Sunday night, the same president set the goal posts for his administration’s response to the coronavirus in a very different place. In a White House briefing in the Rose Garden, Trump referenced new data from his task force and said that between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths would represent a victory over the coronavirus.

In doing so, Trump seemed to suddenly embrace coronavirus projections that he had previously shrugged off and downplayed. Rather than put an optimistic spin on what lies ahead, he instead sought to use the most dire projections to pre-spin his administration’s response as a success.

As The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reported, Trump pointed no fewer than 16 times to the most dire projections of 2 million or more U.S. deaths in the Sunday briefing. This was most prominently projected in an Imperial College London study that spurred a more aggressive response in the United States and Britain two weeks ago.

“So you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this,” Trump said. “And so if we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — it’s a horrible number, maybe even less — but to 100,000. So we have between 100 and 200,000, and we altogether have done a very good job.”

Trump added, “But to point to up to 2.2 million deaths and maybe even beyond that, I’m feeling very good about what we did last week.”

As The Post’s William Booth reported when the Imperial College London study came out, that 2.2 million figure was a worst-case scenario in which virtually no precautions were taken — and Trump, to his credit, acknowledged that at one point Sunday.

The number was halved if the two countries were more aggressive:If Britain and the United States pursued more-ambitious measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, to slow but not necessarily stop the epidemic over the coming few months, they could reduce mortality by half, to 260,000 people in the United Kingdom and 1.1 million in the United States.

But it was significantly lower for Britain if the most aggressive steps were taken:Finally, if the British government quickly went all-out to suppress viral spread — aiming to reverse epidemic growth and reduce the case load to a low level — then the number of dead in the country could drop to below 20,000. To do this, the researchers said, Britain would have to enforce social distancing for the entire population, isolate all cases, demand quarantines of entire households where anyone is sick, and close all schools and universities — and do this not for weeks but for 12 to 18 months, until a vaccine is available.

As Booth noted, the model didn’t provide a number for the United States in the case of the most aggressive response. But if you apply the same percentage-wise decline to both Britain and the United States — as the study did between the worst-case scenario and the middle option — it would be about 85,000 deaths in the United States. That’s pretty close to what Trump is now aiming for.

Whether that would actually be the victory that Trump says it would be is subjective. But it’s notable that he’s now playing up those projections, after he spent the initial weeks of the outbreak suggesting the situation was “under control” and floating the idea that the virus could suddenly, miraculously disappear. The number of deaths he’s now talking about would be substantially higher than the seasonal flu and swine flu numbers he has repeatedly compared the current situation with — and in the latter case argued signified a failed response.

The swine flu, of course, was significantly less deadly than the coronavirus. But that didn’t stop Trump from making a comparison that has now turned out to be rather shortsighted. The flu comparison also was faulty from the start because the mortality rate and the transmission rate have been shown to be substantially lower.

The problem with setting the goal posts for your own success in the middle of a crisis is that there is so much you don’t know, and you can wind up setting an expectation that will later suggest you didn’t take things seriously enough or that your response was a failure. But Trump did it again Sunday — albeit in a significantly less optimistic way.

[Washington Post]

Trump downplays need for ventilators as New York begs to differ

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York says his state needs tens of thousands of ventilators to respond to the escalating coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump doesn’t believe him.

Speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Trump again minimized the impact of the infectious outbreak in the United States, casting doubt on the demand for so many of the respiratory devices in hospitals on the front lines of the disease.

“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

New York has become the new epicenter America’s public health crisis, as health care workers struggle to treat rocketing numbers of patients with diminishing supplies, including masks, gowns and ventilators. In severe cases of Covid-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, the machines can allow patients to breathe with incapacitated lungs — a common outcome of the disease.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said in a news briefing on Thursday that she was told New York had enough ventilators to meet current needs. While there may be shortages in urban areas like New York City, she said, there are parts of the state “that have lots of ventilators and other parts of New York state that don’t have any infections right now.”

“Over a thousand or two thousand ventilators that have not been utilized yet,” Birx said. “Please, for the reassurance of people around the world, to wake up this morning and look at people talking about creating DNR situations — do not resuscitate situations for patients — there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion.”

But during his daily news conference on Tuesday, Cuomo had said that the state would need a minimum of 30,000 ventilators to be able to respond to the climax of the outbreak, which is predicted to hit the state in about two weeks.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had delivered only 400 ventilators, Cuomo said, although the Trump administration announced later in the day that it would ship 4,000 more from the federal stockpile.

“What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” Cuomo asked reporters, angrily accusing the administration of “missing the magnitude of the problem.”

“You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators,” he said.

By Thursday, Cuomo said the state had begun converting several thousand anesthesia machines into ventilators and approved the “splitting” of ventilators between two patients — a practice the governor said was “not ideal, but we believe it’s workable.”

“We are talking to the federal government about more ventilators” and still “shopping for ventilators, ourselves,” Cuomo said, adding that stockpiles of ventilators were located “all across the state” to deploy to regional hospitals.

But “the number of ventilators we need is so astronomical,” Cuomo warned, pegging the “apex number” of ventilators that could be required in New York at 40,000. The governor said New York is currently in possession of 12,000 ventilators, and he did not know when the state would reach peak demand.

“We don’t have an estimate for when we would get there,” Cuomo said, “and hopefully, we never do.”

[Politico]

Trump signals growing skepticism about coronavirus lockdown

President Donald Trump on Sunday night appeared to suggest he would soon consider relaxing federal guidelines meant to combat the coronavirus pandemic — even as senior administration officials promoted those measures as critical to preventing further loss of life and predicted a grim week ahead.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump wrote on Twitter shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

The president’s message referred to the administration’s “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative, announced last Monday, which urged Americans to practice social distancing; avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; work or attend school from home whenever possible; and abstain from eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts.

At the White House coronavirus task force’s daily press briefing Sunday,Vice President Mike Pence noted that the country was seven days into the effortand praised Americans’ participation thus far.

“With the cooperation, compassion, generosity, and prayers of the American people, we can slow the spread, we can protect the most vulnerable, and we can heal our land,” Pence said. “So let’s do it, America.”

But while the guidance is helping “flatten the curve” of infected individuals within the United States, it has also contributed to a precipitous drop in economic activity.

Even more stringent directives issued by state and local authorities, such as large-scale “shelter-in-place” orders, have similarly spooked financial markets and provoked fears of an imminent recession.

On Monday morning, Trump signaled growing skepticism regarding those health-related lockdowns, retweeting a handful of accounts that proposed Americans return to work in the near future and advocated for a resumption of daily life in the U.S.

“The fear of the virus cannot collapse our economy that President Trump has built up,” read a tweet shared by the president. “We The People are smart enough to keep away from others if we know that we are sick or they are sick! After 15 days are over the world can begin to heal!”

In another post Trump retweeted, a Twitter user wrote that after 15 days, “we keep the high risk groups protected as necessary and the rest of us go back to work.”

The president’s social media activity came as Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a string of appearances on morning news shows, repeatedly cautioning that the coming days would prove among the most difficult in Americans’ fight against the public health crisis.

[Politico]

Reality

Trump’s tweets came minutes after Fox News Steve Hilton said the same thing.

Trump lashes out at networks, newspapers: All I see is ‘hatred of me’


President Trump
 late Sunday lashed out at much of the media over their coverage of his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, claiming that all he’s seen is “hatred of me.”

“I watch and listen to the Fake News, CNN, MSDNC, ABC, NBC, CBS, some of FOX (desperately & foolishly pleading to be politically correct), the [New York Times], & the [Washington Post], and all I see is hatred of me at any cost,” Trump said on Twitter. 

“Don’t they understand that they are destroying themselves?” he asked. 

Trump has regularly attacked the press since entering the White House, often referring to reporters as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.” Last week, Trump railed against an NBC reporter, calling him “terrible,” after being asked what he’d say to Americans who are scared. 

His tirade against the group of news outlets came after a day in which several state and federal lawmakers called on the president to use his authority to help health systems being overwhelmed by a surge of patients. 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said on CNN that states were overpaying for medical equipment and were being forced to compete with each other for much-needed resources. Rather than a competition, it “should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government,” he said. 

“It’s a wild, wild West out there, and indeed [we’re] overpaying for [personal protective equipment] because of that competition,” Pritzker said. 

Trump railed against Pritzker and CNN just hours later, tweeting that they “shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings.”

Pritzker tweeted in response that Trump “wasted precious months when you could’ve taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans.”

“Get off Twitter & do your job,” Pritzker said. 

Speaking at a White House briefing on Sunday, Trump said that he would reject calls to ramp up production of critical medical supplies through the use of the Defense Production Act.

He said that he’s used the law as a source of leverage in negotiations with companies to persuade them to manufacture equipment, but he contended that it would nationalize industries and that he was not in favor it. The Defense Production Act does not nationalize industry, but it does allow the government to direct private businesses to make certain supplies. “We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela,” Trump told reporters. “How did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well.”

[The Hill]

Donald Trump Shares “Chinese Virus Facts” That Are Pure Propaganda and Bunk

Donald Trump shared a video of Fox News’ Jesse Watters making a poor attempt at gaslighting you, saying:

1) “Trump did not cut funding for the CDC. It has increased since he took office.”

FACT: True CDC funding has risen, because Congress denied Trump’s multiple requests to cut CDC funding. Requests still happening today: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/486817-trump-budget-chief-holds-firm-on-cdc-cuts-amid-virus-outbreak?amp

2) “Trump did not get rid of the NSC Pandemic unit.”

FACT: Trump absolutely dismissed his Pandemic Response Team in 2017, here is video of Trump bragging about firing the team in 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/coronavirus-video-trump-pandemic-team-cut-2018-a9405191.html

3) “Trump did not call the “China Virus” a hoax.”

FACT: Here is video of Trump calling COVID-19 a hoax: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1233570800223084544?s=21

4) “Trump did not silence scientists.”

FACT: All government scientists are banned from talking to the public and all communications of government scientists must go through Mike Pence: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/us/politics/us-coronavirus-pence.html

5) “Trump never told governors they are on their own.”

FACT: Trump told governors they are on their own and his administration is not a shipping clerk: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-19/trump-told-governors-to-buy-own-virus-supplies-then-outbid-them

6) “Google is working on a website to test coronavirus”

FACT: Trump said earlier that they are working with Google to create a virus testing website for all Americans. Watters however claimed the press said that Google has no plans to do it, which was fake news. That’s not what the press pointed out at all and in fact Google itself was forced to fact-check Trump their website was not ready for all Americans but just testing in the Bay Area and had no plans to roll out to the rest of the country:
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/03/trump-misrepresents-google-coronavirus-website/

Reality

This is what Fox News does, it creates an alternative reality for their viewers by ignoring key facts, withholding context, and making stuff up.

Make no mistake this is propaganda. If you saw the media arm of a political party in any other country you would say this is exactly what propaganda looks like. If you watch Fox News you are willfully accepting lies.

Trump calls for anti-malaria drug to be used ‘immediately’ despite caution from top health expert

Donald Trump has called for an anti-malaria drug to be used to treat the coronavirus “immediately”, despite his top health expert having said that evidence for its effectiveness was so far “anecdotal”.

On Saturday morning the president tweeted: “HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE! @US_FDA @SteveFDA @CDCgov​ @DHSgov.”

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug while azithromycin is an antibiotic.

Mr Trump had mentioned hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment on Thursday, before being publicly rebuked by Anthony Fauci, his lead expert in the fight against Covid-19. The coronavirus has infected at least 18,000 people in the US and killed more than 270.

On Thursday the president said: “I do want to say – to me, something so big – the FDA has approved compassionate use for a significant number of patients. We have a drug called chloroquine. A derivation would be hydroxychloroquine, which I hear even better about.

“It’s a common malaria drug. It’s been available, so therefore the safety level we understand very well. It’s been relatively safe. And it showed very encouraging early results. Really encouraging. 

“If we – if this works as well as – hopefully it might. The FDA, which would have taken normally much longer to do under our great Secretary … the head of the FDA has been – Dr Stephen Hahn – he has been fantastic. He got it approved very quickly.  I won’t even tell you how quickly, but let’s put it this way: It’s approved.  And we’re encouraging you to take a look at it. We have ordered a lot of it, and you can too. It’s by prescription.

“It’s a very powerful drug for malaria and also for various forms of very serious arthritis. But we think it has a very serious – a very good impact on what we’re talking about with respect to the virus. So you’ll take a look at that. Then you can coordinate with us. But I think, to me, that’s a game changer.”

But asked about whether the drug was a promising solution, Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a White House news conference on Friday that the “the answer is no”.

He said that “the evidence you’re talking about … is anecdotal evidence”

“It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.”

Dr Fauci told CNN “there’s no magic drug”.

This is not the first time during the coronavirus crisis that the president has clashed with his health experts. Having repeatedly claimed that a vaccine could be developed within months, Dr Fauci and others were forced to stress that it would take at least a year and perhaps longer than 18 months.

[The Independent]

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