Testing COVID-19 treatments should take a page from Anthony Fauci's anti-AIDS playbook

Testing COVID-19 treatments should take a page from Anthony Fauci's anti-AIDS playbook
The fight over whether chloroquine should be used before the Food and Drug Administration approves its use for coronavirus has become political and ugly. In particular, the media is angry because it believes the Trump administration supports increasing “access to promising drugs to patients who cannot participate in clinical trials.”

There are dozens of articles claiming that “allowing widespread use for infected people is simply a matter of acquiescing to political pressure.” An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times called for limiting access to clinical trials. And a recent New York Times article noted that allowing people to get access to medicines such as hydroxychloroquine is “an invitation to disaster. It will prevent us from finding drugs that will help people.“

Except these are not contemporary allegations about hydroxychloroquine. They are statements and sentiments lodged about HIV medications and the AIDS patient 30 years ago as they fought to get access to experimental medicines.  

The government official urging broader access at the time? Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is currently a very visible part of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force.

HIV was identified as a potentially deadly virus in 1981. By 1982 it was clear that the disease was spreading around the globe, killing almost everyone it infected. Like today, HIV patients quickly developed pneumonia and respiratory infections.
 
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