New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that his state is set to begin clinical trials this week for a malaria drug that President Donald Trump has touted as a possible treatment for coronavirus.
“The president is optimistic about these drugs, and we are all optimistic that it could work,” Cuomo said at a daily press conference in Albany.
Cuomo said that state health officials have procured 750,000 doses of the malaria drug chloroquine; 70,000 doses of its derivative, hydroxychloroquine; and 10,000 doses of the antibiotic Zithromax to use in trials set to begin Tuesday.
Some health officials have expressed cautious optimism after lab trials and a clinical trial conducted in France showed that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been effective at fighting the virus.
Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the school for tropical medicine at Baylor School of Medicine, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have “a lot of potential,” but that “we’re not going on a lot of data yet.”
Trump on Thursday directed the Food and Drug Administration to speed wave “outdated rules and bureaucracies” to test various anti-viral therapies for use against coronavirus. On Friday, he called the chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine potential “game-changer(s).”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, tamped down Trump’s remarks at the same press conference, saying that studies so far have been “anecdotal” and not definitive.
“It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.”
Despite those caveats, Cuomo expressed optimism Sunday, saying that the drugs will work.
“I want to thank the FDA for moving very expeditiously to get us this supply. The president ordered the FDA to move, and the FDA moved,” Cuomo said, adding that health experts have told him that “there is a good basis to believe that they could work.”
The coronavirus pandemic has hit New York harder than any other state. Cuomo said Sunday that the state has 15,168 cases, or more than half of all cases in the U.S. More than 6,200 of those cases are in New York City.
Several other clinical trials are underway for the drugs. The University of Minnesota started a 1,500-patient trial last week.
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Image: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers remarks at a news conference regarding the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York State in Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly