President Donald Trump expressed cautious optimism about potential therapies to help curb the symptoms of the novel coronavirus, telling reporters Saturday it would be a “gift from God” if an anti-malaria drug could be used to treat those who have been diagnosed with the fast-spreading virus.
The president was referring to a cocktail of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has been used for years to treat malaria, and azithromycin, known to most people as a Z-Pak, often used to treat sinus and upper respiratory infections.
“I feel very good about it,” said Trump. “[Dr. Anthony Fauci] would feel like, ‘I’d like samples done in a certain way,’ and I understand that, too. Many doctors agree with that. But we don’t have much time. We have a lot of very sick people right now in hospitals all over the place.”
Later, the president added: “Right now, this, to me, would be the greatest thing that could happen. This would be a gift from heaven. This would be a gift from God, if it works. So we’re gonna pray to God that it does work. It’d be a fantastic thing.”
There has been a small study out of France to suggest the combination of drugs could significantly shorten the duration of symptoms for those who have fallen ill to the coronavirus. An analysis of 26 patients showed that the six treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin tested negative for the virus after only six days.
While Dr. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has made clear there is no cure-all for this virus, known as COVID-19, he said Saturday from the White House that it is “not an unreasonable thing to hope for people” that the anti-malaria drug could be an effective therapy for those sick with the disease.
“There are those who lean to the point of giving hope and saying, ‘Give that person the option of having access to that drug,’ and then you have the other group, which is my job as a scientist, to say, my job is to ultimately prove, without a doubt, that a drug is not only safe, but that it actually works. Those two things are really not incompatible.”
Reportedly, 10,000 units of the drug cocktail are being sent to New York, which has quickly become the epicenter in the U.S. for the coronavirus. There are now more than 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Empire State, more than 6,000 of which are in New York City.
Also during the press conference, Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the White House response to the coronavirus pandemic, encouraged Christians to continue giving tithes and offerings to their churches, even though they aren’t physically meeting during this time of social distancing.
He said it’s “still a good idea” to give financial support to the church, “because all the ministries are continuing to play a vital role in our community,” particularly as the U.S. comes to grips with the spread of COVID-19.
For more information about the infection, visit coronavirus.gov.