US President Donald Trump publicly sparred with his government's top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on Friday.
The sparring took place on the national television on whether a malaria drug would work to treat people with coronavirus disease, reports the Hindustan Times.
Americans got conflicting answers from a just-the-facts scientist and a president who operates on gut instinct, reports the Hindustan Times.
Journalists first asked Fauci and then Trump - if a malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine could be used to prevent the coronavirus. Trump had called attention to the drug a day earlier during a briefing where Fauci wasn't present.
Taking the questions Fauci said, "No."
"The information that you are referring to specifically is anecdotal," Fauci added firmly.
"It was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can't make any definitive statement about it."
Anthony Fauci went on to explain that the Food and Drug Administration is looking for a way to make the drug available for emergency use, but in a manner that gives the government data about whether it's safe and effective.
Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH and in more than 30 years has handled HIV, SARS, MERS, Ebola and now the new coronavirus.
Currently, there is no medicine specifically approved for treating COVID-19.
As the two men took turns at the podium, Trump said he disagreed with the notion that there is no magic drug for the coronavirus disease.
"Maybe and maybe not, " he said.
"Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. We have to see." He struck an upbeat note, while trying not to directly challenge Fauci.
"I think without seeing too much, I am probably more of a fan of that," he said, referring to the malaria drug.
"And we all understand what the doctor said is 100 percent correct."
The US president added: "It is a strong drug. So, we will see."
Hydroxychloroquine and a similar drug — chloroquine — are sold around the world under a variety of brand and generic names. They can be prescribed off-label by doctors in the United States. They may interfere with the coronavirus being able to enter cells, and some scientists have reported possible encouraging signs in test-tube and other small studies.
The scientist seemed to be trying to find a way to avoid a direct confrontation with the president.
"You know, I am not dismissing it at all, and I hope that that interpretation wasn't widespread."