Trump Directs Aggressive Exploration of Malaria Drug for Coronavirus

US President Donald Trump listens to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn (R) speak on the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak.
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President Donald Trump said Thursday he directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate whether an existing drug for malaria can be used to treat the coronavirus.

It is important “not to provide false hope,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said at the White House’s daily press briefing on the coronavirus. But Trump has “asked us to be aggressive” and “breakthrough exciting, life-saving treatment, and we’re doing that at the FDA,” Hahn said.

The announcement at the briefing Thursday came hours after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House’s massive economic stimulus proposal would include $500 billion for direct payments to Americans.

The Trump administration has also asked Congress for an additional $45.8 billion to cover “unanticipated” costs incurred by agencies responding to the crisis.

Some health authorities in the U.S. and China have been using Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medication Remdesivir, which was tested as a possible treatment for the Ebola outbreak, in hopes that the drug can reduce the duration of the virus in patients. Antiviral drug Kaletra, developed by drugmaker AbbVie, has also been used by some authorities through so-called compassionate use programs.

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