A drug used to treat malaria and arthritis has shown promise as a vaccine against coronavirus and could be “a game changer” in stopping the outbreak, President Donald Trump announced at a White House press conference Thursday.
The already existing drug, known as Hydroxychloroquine, exhibited “encouraging early results against the virus. We’re going to be able to make that drug available immediately,” by prescription, the president said.
Trump said the drug was being “fast-tracked” by the FDA, but the agency later clarified that the drug had not yet been approved to treat COVID-19, according to Bloomberg News.
Thus far, no clinical trials have been conducted to show its effectiveness against the virus, according to reports. Typically those trials could take up to 12 months or longer, the FDA said.
FDA has NOT approved malaria drug chloroquine for COVID-19, an FDA spokesperson confirms to me referring me to @stevefda's remarks at the press conference
— Anna Edney (@annaedney) March 19, 2020
“Nice part is it’s been around a long time, so if things don’t go well, we know it won’t kill anyone,” Trump said.
We are going to WIN, sooner rather than later!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2020Loading...
Trump spoke for more than an hour alongside Vice President Mike Pence, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, and other members of the national coronavirus task force.
During his remarks, the president said Carnival Cruises has offered to provide ships to help with treatment for the COVID-19, according to NPR.
He also said he supports investing government money in companies that are struggling under the weight of the outbreak.
A day earlier, Trump invoked rarely used emergency powers to marshal critical medical supplies against the pandemic. Trump also signed an aid package — which the Senate approved earlier Wednesday — that will guarantee sick leave to workers who fall ill.
Trump tapped his authority under the 70-year-old Defense Production Act to give the government more power to steer production by private companies and try to overcome shortages in masks, ventilators and other supplies.
Trump has taken other extraordinary steps to steady the nation.
The Canada-U.S. border, the world’s longest, was effectively closed, save for commerce and essential travel, while the administration pushed its plan to send relief checks to millions of Americans.
Trump said he will expand the nation’s diagnostic testing capacity and deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York City, which is rapidly becoming an epicenter of the pandemic, and another such ship to the West Coast. And the Housing and Urban Development Department will suspend foreclosures and evictions through April to help the growing number of Americans who face losing jobs and missing rent and mortgage payments.