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Fauci says concerns about leaks drove early announcement about COVID-19 drug

Fauci says concerns about leaks drove early announcement about COVID-19 drug
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Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciMAGALand in Orlando CDC director warns states against lifting COVID-19 restrictions The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Third approved vaccine distributed to Americans MORE said that concerns about leaks of information on the Gilead Sciences Inc.’s drug led him to reveal data Wednesday in a move that has been criticized by other health professionals.

Fauci had announced during an Oval Office meeting between President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) that COVID-19 patients who are taking a dummy or placebo treatment should switch to taking Gilead’s drug remdesivir

He said the results in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) clinical trial showed some “quite good news” with remdesivir being the first drug shown to benefit coronavirus patients.

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Fauci, who is the director of the NIAID, said he took his first opportunity to make the announcement to avoid leaks of partial information, which he said was already happening. 

“It was purely driven by ethical concerns,” Fauci told Reuters in an interview

“I would love to wait to present it at a scientific meeting, but it’s just not in the cards when you have a situation where the ethical concern about getting the drug to people on placebo dominates the conversation,” he added. 

A data safety and monitoring board found the drug accomplished its goals in the trial of shortening hospital stays by about four days, with preliminary data showing patients recovered 31 percent faster with the drug, according to an NIAID statement released after Fauci’s announcement. 

The trial also almost showed the drug helped people survive, but the data was below statistical significance, Reuters reported. 

But other health professionals expressed concern that the Trump administration was increasing hope for the drug before presenting the full proof that it works. Scientists told Reuters they thought the presentation of the results at the White House was inappropriate, as they had expected a news release, a briefing at a medical meeting or a scientific journal. 

Trump previously touted anti-malaria drugs like hydroxychloroquine as treatment against coronavirus despite not having proof of its effectiveness.