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FiercePharmaPolitics—WH chief of staff Meadows says U.S. cant control COVID, but will focus on drugs and vaccines

With U.S. COVID-19 cases surging again, and the country heading into a winter that officials have warned could be devastating, the White House appears more focused on drugs and vaccines that fight the virus rather than strategies to slow its spread. 

That’s the takeaway from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ Sunday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. During their conversation, Meadows told Tapper that “we are not going to control the pandemic.” 

“We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” he added. Still, the administration is “making efforts to contain it,” Meadows said when pressed during the interview. 

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“What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this,” Meadows said. 

The statements come as U.S. cases spike again, nearly hitting 68,954 on average during the past 7 days, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Tests are up to 1.1 million a day. 

 

Meanwhile, the presidential candidates have taken dramatically different stances on where the virus is heading in the coming months. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said the country is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic, while Democratic nominee Joe Biden said the U.S. in for a “dark winter.” 

SPECIAL REPORT: The 20 most influential people in the fight against COVID-19

But even as cases rise, the massive research effort by the biopharma industry and others has already delivered promising drugs and vaccines in various stages of testing. Gilead’s Veklury, formerly known as remdesivir, has won the first full FDA drug approval in COVID-19 and is the standard of care for hospitalized patients. Still, some experts have reservations about the FDA’s move to approve the drug, given its mixed performance in clinical trials.  

Separately, antibodies from Eli Lilly and Regeneron have shown promise as well and are under consideration for emergency use authorizations.  

RELATED: Trump, Biden spar over COVID-19 vaccines at debate. Will it help public trust in the process? 

Several vaccines are in late-stage testing, and experts predict the first doses will be available in late 2020 or early 2021. Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax are trialing late-stage candidates. 

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