Trump touts unproven coronavirus remedies

President Trump, facing a national outcry over the lack of available coronavirus testing and an imminent spike in positive cases, suggested Thursday that two existing drugs may be effective remedies and said the Food and Drug Administration is fast-tracking them to market.

Neither drug is a proven treatment for Covid-19, the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus, however, and neither is likely to be publicly available in the near future.

Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug developed over 50 years ago and also used to treat arthritis, has been determined to be effective against the coronavirus in recent laboratory experiments, Trump told a White House news conference.

“It’s very exciting,” Trump said. “It could be a game changer, and maybe not.”

The drug’s long history, the president said, offered some reassurance that its effects wouldn’t be harmful.

“it’s been around for a long time,” he said. “So we know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.”

A second existing anti-viral drug, Remdesivir, has been administered to some patients in critical condition and is being tested in five Covid-19 clinical trials.

The FDA commissioner, Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, made clear the drugs would not be publicly available in the near term. He said trials are necessary to determine if they provide effective treatment against the coronavirus and in what dosage.

Hahn, who appreared with Trump in the White House briefing room, said he didn’t want to give Americans “false hope” about an immediate panacea.

But he echoed the president’s optimism that anti-viral therapies are being approved to treat the coronavirus and slow the epidemic before a vaccine is developed, which could take up to 18 months.

The administration has been under fire for its slow response to the epidemic, and its inability to provide widespread testing for Americans.

Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the president’s coronavirus task force, said testing, will increase dramatically now that Congress has passed legislation to provide sick leave, unemployment benefits and free testing.

“Americans can expect to see how an increasing number of cases,” Pence said, noting that the rising numbers of confirmed cases “should not be a cause for concern.”

Trump and Pence were unable to explain the shortage of surgical masks, testing kits and hospital ventilators. They instead praised the private sector for ramping up manufacturing of necessary supplies.

The briefing came as new data indicated younger Americans face a greater risk than previously believed.

A reporter by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that while people over 65 remain at gravest risk worldwide, 38 % of those who have required hospitalization in the United States so far were aged 20 to 54.

This content was originally published here.