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President Donald Trump will announce a “breakthrough” in the therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 Sunday evening, according to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
The president is set to make the announcement at 6 p.m. EDT and he’ll be accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar as well Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Stephan Hahn, McEnany posted on Twitter late Saturday.
News conference with President @realDonaldTrump at 6 pm tomorrow concerning a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus. Secretary Azar and Dr. Hahn will be in attendance.
— Kayleigh McEnany 45 Archived (@PressSec45) August 23, 2020
Earlier Saturday, the president accused functionaries at the FDA of delaying clinical trials and other treatments for the novel coronavirus for political purposes.
“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The president’s criticism came after his administration blocked the FDA from regulating tests developed by labs such as Quest Diagnostics LabCorp, allowing them to distribute the tests without first subjecting them to the normal review process, which often takes months or years.
“The Trump Administration is committed to combating COVID-19, to ensuring that the American people are protected against future pandemics, and to keeping duplicative regulations and unnecessary policies from interfering with those efforts,” HHS said in a statement last week.
“Those opting to use [Laboratory Developed Tests] in their laboratories without FDA premarket review or authorization may do so with the understanding that they would not be eligible for PREP Act coverage absent approval, clearance or authorization and would remain subject to regulation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988,” the statement continued.
As for the president, he has been stumping for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine sooner rather than later and has teased that one could come well before year’s end.
Earlier this month, Fox News reported, Trump said that while balancing “speed and safety,” he said that Americans could see the introduction of a vaccine “maybe far in advance of the end of the year.”
Normally, vaccines take years to develop.
That said, the country’s lead immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said that while it’s possible a vaccine could be developed by the end of the year, it’s more likely to be later rather than sooner, though he remains “cautiously optimistic.”
Scientists around the world are working to quickly develop a vaccine as well.
But even at that, it’s not likely that a vaccine will be close to 100 percent effective because combating viruses is difficult. For example, annual flu vaccines are notoriously ineffective for 50 percent of the population or more.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in February that the flu vaccine for the 2019-2020 season was only about 45 percent effective for influenza A and B, the two most common types of flu viruses.
Nevertheless, “The meaning of the effectiveness number gets misinterpreted frequently,” said former American Academy of Family Physicians Vaccine Science Fellow John Epling, M.D.
“While we would all want an even more effective vaccine, it remains the best way we have to prevent flu and its complications,” he added.
In September 2019, Trump signed an executive order to improve “efforts to increase uptake of influenza vaccination, improve production efficiency of the vaccine and research new vaccines that can provide longer-lasting coverage,” AAFP said in a news release.