President Trump Touts Possible Coronavirus Treatments Under Investigation; Global Search For Vaccine Continues; U.N. Working To Ensure Medical Supplies, Diagnostics

AP: Trump focuses attention on possible coronavirus treatments
“President Donald Trump focused attention on possible treatments for the new coronavirus on Thursday, citing potential use of a drug long used to treat malaria and some other approaches still in testing. At a White House news conference, Trump and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn cited the malaria drug chloroquine, along with remdesivir, an experimental antiviral from Gilead Sciences, and possibly using plasma from survivors of COVID-19, the disease the new virus causes…” (Marchione, 3/19).

New York Times: Search for Coronavirus Vaccine Becomes a Global Competition
“A global arms race for a coronavirus vaccine is underway. In the three months since the virus began its deadly spread, China, Europe, and the United States have all set off at a sprint to become the first to produce a vaccine. But while there is cooperation on many levels — including among companies that are ordinarily fierce competitors — hanging over the effort is the shadow of a nationalistic approach that could give the winner the chance to favor its own population and potentially gain the upper hand in dealing with the economic and geostrategic fallout from the crisis…” (Sanger et al., 3/19).

Reuters: WHO working to ensure supplies of diagnostics, protective gear — Tedros
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is finalizing arrangements for Chinese suppliers to export protective gear for health workers and aims to build a ‘continuous pipeline,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday. Tedros, in weekly remarks to diplomats made available by the Geneva-based agency, said the WHO was seeking to contract more laboratories to conduct independent evaluations of diagnostic kits and was working with companies to secure supply…” (Nebehay, 3/19).

STAT: With the coronavirus surging, Trump wants science to move far faster. It can’t
“For about 20 minutes on Thursday, President Trump undermined six decades of dogma on the development of safe and effective drugs. Trump, addressing a nation under shelter and quarantine from the coronavirus pandemic, said a new drug for Covid-19, yet to be proved safe and effective, was now ‘approved or very close to approved.’ Another, also not approved for coronavirus, would be ‘available almost immediately,’ in part because using it is ‘not going to kill anybody.’ … The president’s remarks ran afoul of nearly every established FDA norm — prizing data and evidence over rhetoric, for instance, and avoiding promises, let alone those that can’t be kept. But they were also a sign of his long-running impatience with the realities of drug development — an impatience that is flaring at a time when the need for new medications seems more urgent than ever…” (Florko/Garde, 3/19).

Additional coverage of efforts to develop treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2, as well as maintaining supply chains, is available from Bloomberg (2), The Economist, Global Health NOW, The Guardian, The Hill, NBC, POLITICO, Quartz, Reuters, STAT, The Telegraph, U.N. News, Washington Post, and Washington Times.

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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