Apr 29, 2020 - Health

Trump may spend billions to speed vaccine moonshot

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.

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May 31, 2020 - World

U.S. sends Brazil 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1,000 ventilators

President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well as the South American country becomes the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: The situation in Brazil, which has reported over 498,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 28,000 deaths, is threatening to spiral out of control as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro faces mounting criticism for downplaying the severity of the virus.

Updated 14 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Health experts fear that the protests breaking out across the U.S. could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The state of play: Being outside may limit the danger, but close quarters, yelling, and potential exposure to tear gas, which causes coughing and crying, increase the risk of spread. It's recommended that those who are protesting be tested for the coronavirus.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,226,408 — Total deaths: 373,973 — Total recoveries — 2,672,161Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,799,747 — Total deaths: 104,702 — Total recoveries: 444,758 — Total tested: 16,936,891Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.