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FDA says drug not yet available for COVID-19 treatment despite Trump claims

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Posted at 10:13 AM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 15:29:04-04

President Donald Trump and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a press conference Thursday that officials are looking into drugs already approved by the FDA that may help treat COVID-19.

Among the drugs mentioned by Trump were choloroquine and hydroxycholoroquine — two drugs that have already been approved by the FDA to treat malaria and arthritis.

While Trump said that choloroquine would be available for COVID-19 treatment "immediately," the MSNBC and Bloomberg reports that the FDA has said the drugs need further testing before they are approved.

Hahn also said the administration is investigating the use of other similar drugs for approval for coronavirus treatments.

Later in the briefing, Vice President Mike Pence added that while "tens of thousands" of COVID-19 tests were being performed every day, they should still be reserved for those who are most at risk. While data from the CDC regarding tests is currently incomplete due to lag time, various media outlets report that some sick patients are struggling to get tested for the disease.

Trump was also asked about his rumored $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan that would send cash directly to Americans which he is expected to introduce to Congress soon. Trump said he would prefer the legislation be approved by Congress as opposed to announcing it through executive order.

When asked about the gap between Pence's questions and reports of those struggling to get tests, Trump was at a loss.

"I can't explain the gap...we have a very good system," he said.

Trump also denied reports of "chaos" in the White House surrounding the response to the virus.

"There's no chaos, I'm the ones telling everyone to be calm," he said.

The administration's briefing comes as nearly 10,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout the country. At least 150 people in 23 states have died in connection with the virus.