Mar 20, 2020 - Health

Chloroquine, an old anti-malarial drug, takes the coronavirus spotlight

A worker checks the production of chloroquine in China. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The Trump administration is taking a very public interest in chloroquine, an old, cheap anti-malarial drug, as a potential coronavirus treatment, although it's way too soon to put much stock in its effectiveness.

What they're saying: The Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether the drug can reduce the duration of patients' symptoms in mild to moderate cases, or to reduce "viral shedding," which helps prevent disease spread.

As I reported earlier this week, pharma company Bayer is donating a large quantity of its version of the drug, Resochin, to the U.S. government. Bayer confirmed the donation of 3 million tablets yesterday.

  • "Currently not approved for use in the United States, Bayer is working with appropriate agencies on an Emergency Use Authorization for the drug's use in the U.S.," the company said in a statement.

Yes, but: Awareness of the drug's potential has bolstered demand. Chloroquine and its variant hydroxychloroquine have gone into shortage, Business Insider reports.

  • The drug is also used to treat arthritis or lupus, and the shortages could threaten the health of patients who rely on it.

My thought bubble: Remember that this is an unproven treatment; there's absolutely no guarantee that it will help treat coronavirus.

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We're still behind on coronavirus testing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coronavirus testing capacity is still lagging far enough behind demand that the U.S. continues to only test the sickest patients — a bad omen for future efforts to return to normal life.

Why it matters: Diagnostic testing is the cornerstone of any containment strategy. To even begin talking about resuming social and economic activity, we would have to get testing right first.

Go deeperArrowApr 7, 2020 - Health

Snapchat launches augmented reality donations for coronavirus relief

Photo: Snapchat

Snapchat launched its first donation tool today to help users donate to coronavirus relief efforts, a spokesperson tells Axios.

Why it matters: It uses augmented reality. Snap users can scan 23 international currency notes across 33 countries using the Snapchat app, triggering an AR visualization of how a potential donation could support the World Health Organization’s response efforts.

Go deeper...Exclusive: Snapchat expedites wellness push in response to virus

Navarro memos warning of mass coronavirus death circulated in January

Image from a Feb 23rd memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

The state of play: By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to 2 million Americans could die of the virus.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Apr 7, 2020 - Health