Covid-19 vaccine in late February: White House

Updated 16 Feb 2020

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People wear protective masks in an old neighbourhood of Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of novel coronavirus, on February 2. — Reuters/File
People wear protective masks in an old neighbourhood of Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of novel coronavirus, on February 2. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has said that testing and production of a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) drug could start as soon as late February.

In an interview to Fox Business Network on Friday night, Mr Navarro also said that 150 million doses of this vaccine could “hopefully” be available by “as early as next November.” Five large American companies were already working on this project, he added.

A US biotech firm Gilead announced earlier this month that has reached an agreement with China to try its antiviral drug Remdesivir on patients with coronavirus. Gilead is known for its HIV and hepatitis C treatments but it’s now also focusing on finding a cure for the deadly respiratory disease.

Mr Navarro told Fox News that the White House was “moving at Trump time” on a treatment drug and they were hopeful testing and production could begin “as early as the end of the month, mid-March.”

He said that Gilead’s Remdesivir “looks promising” as well and “the thing that we need absolutely to do is get that into rapid clinical trials.”To make the drug available, “we’re going down a different avenue,” Mr Navarro said. “If we can get that done, we can ramp the production up and have that to treat people.”

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020