U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday that the country is stepping up development of treatments for COVID-19 patients, including experiment on antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and a blood-related therapy.
Addressing a White House briefing, Trump said that hydroxychloroquine is being administered to 1,100 patients in New York along with Z-Pak, or azithromycin.
“It’s very early yet. It only started two days ago. But we will see what happens,” he said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also allowing the emergency use of a blood-related therapy called convalescent plasma, as an experimental treatment for seriously ill patients, Trump said.
The therapy involves taking blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19. New sick patients will be transfused with the blood to boost their immune systems, Trump said, adding that the early results are good.
Convalescent plasma that contains antibodies to the novel coronavirus is possibly effective against the infection, the FDA said in a news release.
To push more and faster testing, the FDA authorized on Friday a new test developed by U.S. medical devices company Abbott Laboratories.
The test could deliver positive results in as short as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes, and 50,000 such tests are expected to be conducted per day from next week, according to the company.
Vaccine development is moving along very rapidly and the United States is unleashing every tool quickly in order to vanquish the virus, Trump said.
Trump also announced that the federal social distancing guidelines will be extended to April 30.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the mitigation efforts are taking effect and the extension of the social distancing guidelines is a “wise and prudent decision.”
Deborah Birx, response coordinator of the White House COVID-19 task force, said social distancing efforts could save hundreds of thousands of American lives.
Trump said the death rate in the country is likely to peak in two weeks, and he hopes the country will be on its way to recovery by June 1.