Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday that the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness in the treatment of the novel coronavirus has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

"With expanded access, hospitals or physicians can apply for emergency use of remdesivir for multiple severely ill patients at a time."
— Excerpt from O’Day's statement

Zoom in: The firm has moved from its "compassionate use" program to one of "expanded access" because "the system cannot support and process the overwhelming number of applications we have seen with COVID-19," O'Day said.

  • Children and pregnant women would still have access via the "compassionate use" program, which has seen the drugmaker provide remdesivir to more than 1,000 patients, per O'Day's letter.
  • Establishing the safety and efficacy of this investigational medicine is essential before it can be distributed for use worldwide, O'Day noted.

What's next: The company hopes to have initial data from the trials in the coming weeks.

  • "If it is approved, we will work to ensure affordability and access so that remdesivir is available to patients with the greatest need," O'Day said.

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Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump visit

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and plans to quarantine at his home for the next 14 days, his office announced Thursday. He currently has no symptoms.

Why it matters: The 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol. He is the second governor known to have contracted the coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R).

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 18,860,908 — Total deaths: 708,676— Total recoveries — 11,394,821Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 4,834,546 — Total deaths: 158,445 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.