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Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool/Getty Images

Trump administration advisers are hinting at a willingness to spend billions and elevate their risk tolerance in the hope of getting coronavirus treatments out this year.

What they're saying: "There had been frustration about how slow CDC was moving on a vaccine, and there had been discussions on how to bypass some of the bureaucracy and speed the process up significantly," a White House official told Axios' Alayna Treene.

The plan: The administration wants to organize public-private partnerships — with taxpayers assuming the risk — to produce vaccines on scale before widespread trials have ended. 

  • "Called 'Operation Warp Speed,' the program will pull together private pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and the military to try to cut the development time for a vaccine by as much as eight months," Bloomberg reports.
  • Reality check: This is billed as a way to get 100 million doses to the public by the end of this year and shorten the 12- to 18-month timeline laid out by the NIH's Anthony Fauci, but even that window was extremely optimistic.

The higher risk tolerance: The administration is reportedly preparing to give an emergency use authorization for Gilead's remdesivir, despite mixed results in early trials, the N.Y. Times reports.

  • Remdesivir appears to help people recover modestly quicker, which could be encouraging for those who get sick, but this drug is not any kind of a "cure" for this novel coronavirus, Axios' Bob Herman reports. Faster means 11 days vs. 15.
  • The data, which is still undergoing peer review and wasn't expected until May, shows an "important proof of concept" for remdesivir, but it isn't necessarily a "knockout," the NIH's Anthony Fauci said at the White House today.
  • Flashback: President Trump was promoting chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as recently as two weeks ago.

The bottom line: There's a lot of pressure to get treatments and eventually a vaccine out to the public faster — but don't get your hopes up.

Go deeper

Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus

Surgeon General Jerome Adams the American Red Cross National Headquarters on July 30. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Friday stressed the importance of Americans getting flu vaccines for the next influenza season, noting that the country has "been backsliding in terms of vaccine confidence over the last several years."

Why it matters: A bad flu season could put even more strain on the country's health system resources, which are especially limited in domestic coronavirus epicenters like Florida and California.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker