Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, reportedly clashed recently with White House trade official Peter Navarro over the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and its use as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
During a meeting Saturday first reported by Axios, Navarro reportedly accused Fauci of opposing the administration's temporary ban on travel from China after Fauci cautioned against the administration promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus.
"You were the one who early on objected to the travel restrictions with China," Navarro reportedly said to Fauci.
There's no evidence Fauci has ever publicly criticized the administration's approach to travel from China amid the outbreak, and on March 12, Fauci praised such a policy during a press briefing.
Administration officials including President Trump have touted the possibility of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus, though it's not clear that the drug is effective.
Fauci himself said at a recent press conference that it is not a proven fact that the drug is effective.
"The answer is no," he said in late March, adding, "And the evidence that you're talking about ... is anecdotal evidence."
An official who spoke to Axios said the incident involving Fauci and Navarro was unusual.
"There has never been a confrontation in the task force meetings like the one yesterday," the source familiar with Fauci and Navarro's dispute told Axios. "People speak up and there's robust debate, but there's never been a confrontation. Yesterday was the first confrontation."
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the exchange from The Hill.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have topped 300,000, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).