CNN host argues with Yale epidemiologist over his support for hydroxychloroquine - 'Don’t speak for me'


Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch and CNN host John Berman bickered over hydroxychloroquine on Monday during a heated discussion about the polarizing drug, which the president has hailed as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Risch recently wrote an op-ed in support of hydroxychloroquine, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and other experts have dismissed the anti-malarial drug being used to combat coronavirus. Risch cited various studies that backed up his pro-hydroxychloroquine stance, but the host of CNN's "New Day" disagreed.
“None of those studies that you just cited are random placebo-controlled trials, what Dr. Fauci refers to as the gold standard,” Berman said, as the CNN on-screen chyron stated “Growing body of evidence shows hydroxychloroquine is ineffective.”
Risch responded: “That’s not actually correct. The problem with those randomized controlled trials, is they were trials done on the wrong people. They were trials done on low-risk people with low risks of hospitalization and mortality. You don’t do a study of prostate cancer with women... because nobody is gonna get the outcome.”
Risch said the studies were conducted on “very low-risk people who are not going to get hospitalized or die” from coronavirus.
“We don’t treat those people. We treat high-risk people,” Risch said.
Berman then accused Risch of being inconsistent compared to the op-ed, but the Yale epidemiologist disagreed and the interview grew contentious.
“You’re misstating what I said, I said it had to be in high-risk people,” Risch said. “As I’ve said, you have to treat the right people. You have to study the right people. Those studies did not study the right people, period. That’s the bottom line.”
Berman insisted the studies have included a wide range of participants.
“Again, the question is,” a frustrated Berman continued, “Why haven’t any random, placebo-controlled trials showed benefit? Isn’t that a problem for an epidemiologist?”
“No,” Risch shot back. “In fact, the FDA has a huge history of drugs going into widespread use in the medical community for decades that have not been established in the basis of randomized controlled trials. Half of the chemotherapy drugs used in cancer were used without randomized controlled trials.”
CNN’s on-screen graphic, which has grown notoriously snarky, sided with Berman, who continued to disagree with Risch.
“Yale epidemiologist insists, against evidence, hydroxychloroquine works,” the chyron said.
The two continued to argue over the importance of randomized controlled trials, with the CNN host dismissing Risch.
“Randomized, placebo-controlled trials, which Dr. Fauci does refer to as the gold standard, are so useful and I know you know that,” Berman said at one point.
“Don’t speak for me,” Risch said as Berman spoke over him.
When Risch was allowed to respond, he told Berman that he made “three or four wrong statements” during the segment and the two continued to bicker over the details of the trials – some of which Berman considers to be “sketchy.”
“None of them are sketchy,” Risch said.

I encourage you to watch the video to the end because Risch does make interesting arguments. For instance, he argues that these randomized placebo controlled trials that Dr. Fauci and others are touting as having NO efficacy for HCQ are actually testing the wrong people:
“The problem with those randomized control trials is they were trials done on the wrong people. They were trials done on low-risk people who have very low risks of hospitalization and mortality. You don’t do a study to prevent prostate cancer in women because nobody’s going to get the outcome. And that’s what those studies did…they were all on very low risk people who are not going to get hospitalized or die by in large. We don’t treat those people, we treat high risk people.”
That sounds to me like a valid argument to me. But instead of discussing it with Risch, Berman immediately accuses him of changing his argument from a Newsweek article that he wrote. When Risch objects to correct him, Berman just talks over top of him and proceeds to question him about something else. The entire questioning of Risch by Berman in the video above is hostile. Not in the combative sense per se, but it was that Berman was trying to discredit Risch’s arguments instead discussing them as though they have merit.
It was a little combative though, as Risch interjects at one point telling Berman “don’t speak for me!”
There’s more in the video above, including Reich’s argument that this so-called gold standard of randomized placebo controlled trials has never been the gold standard in the real world.

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