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Trump, Fauci clash over covid-19 cure claims

US President Donald Trump has been talking up an experimental Covid-19 treatment he received as “a cure,” but one of his top government scientists said referring to it as such may cause “confusion.”

Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, gave an interview to CBS News on Friday where he also referred to the coronavirus outbreak at the White House that infected dozens of people as a “super spreader event.”

Asked about Trump’s effusive praise for Regeneron’s antibody treatment, Fauci said that talking about a “cure” could be misleading because it hasn’t yet been proven, and the drugs that are currently available have only been shown to have modest to moderate results.

“We don’t have any indication — I think you really have to depend on what you mean by a cure, because that’s the word that leads to a lot of confusion,” he said.

He then walked through some of the medicines that are currently recommended or have been temporarily approved against the disease.

These include the antiviral remdesivir which has been shown to diminish time to recovery among hospitalized patients, and the steroid dexamethasone, which reduces mortality rates in patients who need supplemental oxygen.

Regeneron’s treatment belongs to a class of drug called monoclonal antibodies. Fauci said that while these had been “showing promise in clinical trials,” the research is still ongoing and no final determination has been made.

Fauci was also asked about the low level of mask use at the White House until recently, and what lessons could be learned.

“I think the – the data speaks for themselves,” the scientist said of mask-wearing.

“We had a super-spreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves.”

More than 30 people are thought to have been infected at a White House ceremony held September 26 for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The president’s doctor Sean Conley has said Trump may return to public engagements as early as Saturday, raising fears that he may still have high levels of the virus in his body and therefore still be contagious.

Fauci said he had faith that the president’s medical team wouldn’t allow him to do that.

“I can tell you, they are going to be testing him to determine the trajectory and whether he gets to the point where he’s not infected,” he said. “I can guarantee you that they will be testing him before they let him go out.”-AFP

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