Fauci Says Coronavirus Drug, Remdesivir Is Good ‘First Step’ In Fighting COVID-19 But ‘Not The Total Answer’

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The nation’s top infectious disease expert said the modest results for an experimental drug for the coronavirus is a good “first step” in fighting the outbreak, but cautioned that it’s “not the total answer.”

“It’s important but it’s the first step in what we project will be better and better drugs coming long, either alone or in combination with drugs of this type and drugs addressing other targets of the virus,” the National Institutes of Health’s Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview on TODAY.

In a study of 1,063 patients sick enough to be hospitalized, Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31% — 11 days on average versus 15 days for those just given usual care, officials said. The drug also might be reducing deaths, although that’s not certain from the partial results revealed so far.

“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci said Wednesday in announcing the preliminary results.

Fauci also confirmed that he has been working on the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” project that is seeking fast-track a vaccine.

Fauci said that the U.S. is in the early phases of a trial for a vaccine and once researchers move into the next phase, they’re going to go “as quickly as we possibly can” to determine its safety. If they think that might be the case before that testing phase is completed, Fauci said the U.S. will start preemptively ramping up production of the vaccine in the hopes that it will work.

He told co-anchor Savannah Gutherie that he believes developing millions of doses of a vaccine is possible by January.

Asked whether the states that are beginning to reopen have the capability to identify, isolate and contact trace individuals should their cases spike, Fauci said that while he can’t go through a list state by state he urges those who don’t to “go very slowly” because “you will get blips.”

“When you pull back, there will be cases,” Fauci said.


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