Dr. Francis Collins, the outgoing National Institutes of Health (NIH) director, said that he faced political pressure from then-President Donald Trump and other Republicans to not only endorse unproven COVID-19 treatments like hydroxychloroquine but also to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Collins said that he got a “talking to” by Trump but held his ground and would’ve resigned if forced to endorse unproven remedies.

“I have done everything I can to stay out of any kind of political, partisan debates because it is really not a place where medical research belongs,” he said. “I was not going to compromise scientific principles to just hold onto the job.”

Trump frequently touted hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 cure despite both medical experts and the FDA questioning its efficacy and warning of harmful side effects. In fact, in June 2020 the FDA revoked the emergency use authorization for Covid-19 treatment with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

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“Can you imagine a circumstance where the director of the NIH, somebody who believes in science, would submit to political pressures and fire the greatest expert in infectious disease that the world has known, just to satisfy political concerns?” he said.

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