President Donald Trump announced the development of a new test for COVID-19 that could potentially deliver “lightning fast results.”
The president spoke about the new test approved by the Food and Drug Administration during his Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House on Sunday.
Trump began his remarks Sunday by applauding the “social distancing” practiced by members of the White House Press Corps as the briefing was held outdoors in the Rose Garden due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
“Beautiful day in the Rose Garden. Tremendous distance between chairs. Social distancing. You practice it very well. We appreciate it,” he said before announcing the test.
“I want to start today by highlighting several critical developments on both the testing and treatment that will help us win our war against the coronavirus,” Trump said.
“On Friday, the FDA authorized a new test developed by Abbott Labs that delivers lightning fast results in as little as five minutes, and that’s a whole new ballgame,” he added, going to praise Abbott Labs for their “incredible work.”
“They’ve been working around the clock. Normally this approval process from the FDA would take 10 months and even longer, but we did it in four weeks,” he explained.
“Abbott has stated that they will begin delivering 50,000 tests each day starting this weekend. As you know, even before this development, we’ve been doing more tests than any other country anywhere in the world,” Trump continued.
“It’s one of the reasons that we have more cases than other countries, because we’ve been testing. It’s also one of the reasons that we’re just about the lowest in terms of mortality rate, because we’ve been doing more testing so we have bigger numbers to look at,” he added.
After lauding the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA for putting together a temporary hospital with nearly 3,000 beds in New York City, he went on to comment on the rapid testing that will help “defeat the virus” which has over 143,000 confirmed cases and just over 2,500 deaths in the U.S. as of Monday.
“The deployment of rapid testing will vastly accelerate our ability to monitor, track, contain, and ultimately defeat the virus,” the president said.
“We will defeat the virus,” he emphasized. “It will also allow us to test doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers immediately and enable us to act quickly and aggressively to shut down the spread of the virus, so important in critical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes.”
The FDA issued its emergency use authorization of drugs like those used in malaria cases, including hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. The decades-old drugs have reportedly not been studied during a controlled clinical trial but have shown positive signs in some early tests against COVID-19.
The Department of Health and Human Services indicated in a statement that the drugs would be “donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”
Sandoz reportedly donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine while Bayer donated 1 million doses of chloroquine, the HHS statement added. The medication was already being given to New York state patients after the FDA approved its use.
“Let’s see how it works,” Trump said at the press briefing. “It may. It may not.”
(Source: Fox News)
Critics of the president used the latest developments to warn that the FDA’s authorization, along with the Trump’s urging of a more rapid response to the pandemic, come “despite scant evidence” of the effectiveness of the drugs in combating COVID-19, as Politico reported.
“The drug also has been touted as a therapy for coronavirus by an unusual assortment of investors, TV correspondents and even some advisers to the White House — including some advocates who overstated their claims and credentials — and been championed by guests on Fox News,” Politico declared in an article on Sunday.
But many praised Trump and the emergency use authorization, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for #COVID19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. President Trump is taking every possible step to protect Americans from the coronavirus and provide them with hope.
— Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) March 30, 2020
Trump was asked Sunday about waiting on the usual clinical protocols to determine if the medications should be used to treat the pandemic, which Johns Hopkins reported has reached over 732,000 confirmed cases worldwide and over 143,000 in the U.S. as of Monday morning.
“I think Tony would disagree with me … [but] we have a pandemic, we have people dying now,” Trump said, referring to infectious-disease specialist Anthony Fauci, a member of his task force.
The president added that he had recently spoken with FDA and was not happy with the speed of actions and response.
“They indicated that we’ll start working on it right away. It could take a year,” Trump said. “I said what do you mean a year? We have to have it tonight.”
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