CNN's John Berman, White House trade adviser clash on hydroxchloroquine: 'There are two sides'

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Wednesday clashed with CNN anchor John Berman as the administration official continued his efforts to promote hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't MORE has repeatedly touted despite a lack of medical evidence proving its effectiveness. 

The heated exchange between the two came as Berman pressed Navarro about Trump's recent comments about the anti-malaria drug and a doctor featured in a video spreading spurious claims about the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said the doctor, Stella Immanuel, made “specular” statements about hydroxychloroquine and asked why Facebook, YouTube and Twitter took down the video. 

Following the video's release, Immanuel's background became the source of major attention. Among other things, she has claimed that gynecological problems are caused by individuals having sex with demons and witches in their dreams. 

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Berman raised some of Immanuel's claims with Navarro, causing the Trump administration official to become noticeably agitated. As the CNN anchor read off a list of the doctor's previous talking points, Navarro repeatedly called for Berman to stop, saying at one point: "I know you're having fun with this."

"Oh God, I’m not having fun with this," Berman shot back. "My question is, why lean [on] Stella Immanuel to make a medical point?"

 

"My mission here is to help the president save lives and create jobs," Navarro responded, before praising the president's remarks about hydroxychloroquine. 

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Navarro, who has repeatedly touted the drug, went on to argue that he knew nothing about Immanuel and that he wouldn't be used as a "prop" by CNN. He added that he continues to stand by claims supporting hydroxychloroquine's efficacy, noting that he's "sitting on millions of doses of it."

"There are two sides to this. There are two gigantic sides to this," Navarro claimed, citing a study released in early July that found hydroxychloroquine helped patients better survive in the hospital. 

The study's results prompted the White House earlier this month to push the Food and Drug Administration to re-authorize emergency use of the anti-malaria drug for COVID-19 patients. However, scientists have stressed that the study had several limitations that made its findings less rigorous than other tests of the drug. 

Trump earlier this year claimed that hydroxychloroquine had the chance to be a "game-changer" amid the emerging health crisis, even as leading experts emphasized that not enough was known about the drug to understand its efficacy. In the intervening months, multiple studies showed that the drug had little effect in treating the virus. 

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciStudy: Omicron could be more transmissible due to sharing genetic material with common cold Sunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant Three omicron cases of COVID-19 identified in Maryland: Gov. Hogan MORE, the nation's top infectious diseases expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said earlier this week that clinical trials have "overwhelmingly" indicated it is ineffective in treating coronavirus patients. The World Health Organization also stopped trials of the anti-malaria drug after early results showed the drug did not reduce mortality rates.

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But Trump claimed Tuesday that "it's safe," adding that "I had absolutely no problem,” a reference to his own use of the drug over a 14-day period.

Navarro has also frequently weighed in on matters related to hydroxychloroquine. After Fauci expressed skepticism about the drug in April, Navarro said that its effectiveness deserved a “second opinion” and cited his background as a "social scientist" while talking about the issue. 

Navarro has shown a willingness to publicly denounce Fauci, writing in a USA Today op-ed earlier this month that the infectious disease expert's recommendations should be met with “skepticism and caution.”