WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump continues to push for a malaria drug to be given to patients with coronavirus even though one of the nation's top infectious disease experts questions whether it would work.
In a pair of early morning tweets on Saturday, Trump again suggested that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin should be made available to patients who have coronavirus.
"Taken together," Trump tweeted, the drugs "have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine."
Trump has been trying to get the Food and Drug Administration to speed up approval for the drugs to be given to coronavirus patients.
"The FDA has moved mountains - Thank you!" he tweeted, adding that he hopes the drugs will can be put into use "IMMEDIATELY."
"PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE," he wrote in all-caps.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday indications that the drug could help coronavirus patients are "anecdotal." The drug has not been tested on coronavirus patients in a controlled clinical trial, he said, "so you really can't make any definitive statement about it."
Fauci said the Food and Drug Administration is looking for a way to make the drug available for emergency use, but in a way that provides the government with data about whether it's safe and effective.
Stephen Hahn, head of the FDA, warned Thursday against giving "false hope" that the drug could help coronavirus patients.
"We need to look at it," he said. But, "we need the data. We need the information to make the absolute best decisions for the American people."
- Michael Collins
Senators meeting again on coronavirus stimulus
Negotiations continue in the Senate over a massive stimulus plan to blunt the economic effects of the coronavirus as the spread of the disease worsens and economic losses mount.
Washington, D.C. announced its first death from the disease on Friday, and nationwide, there are more than 260 deaths and over 19,600 confirmed cases.
Republican and Democratic senators reconvene at noon Saturday, extending marathon negotiations from Friday that did not result in a deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had set midnight Friday as the deadline for an agreement.
McConnell's plan, which was released in full on Thursday, would, among other provisions, send direct payments of $1,200 to individuals and provide assistance to businesses affected by coronavirus.
McConnell, R-Ky., aims to pass the bill by Monday.
Trump and coronavirus: Trump uses China as a foil when talking coronavirus, distancing himself from criticism
In a letter to Democratic colleagues released Friday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the stimulus "as written" a "non-starter," saying it "puts corporations ahead of working people."
The top Senate health care committee Democrat, Sen. Patty Murry, D-Wash., called McConnell's plan "completely inadequate" as it relates to immediate relief for Americans and investment in public health infrastructure.
More: Coronavirus updates: 3 states under stay-at-home orders, stocks post worst week since financial crisis
Sanders campaign says it raised more than $2 million for coronavirus relief
Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign announced Saturday morning it raised more than $2 million over a period of 48 hours for coronavirus relief.
"The people supporting this campaign have made more than 50,000 donations to help those most impacted by coronavirus because they understand that now more than ever it is important that we are in this together," said Robin Curran, the Sanders campaign's digital fundraising director.
The campaign said it sent text messages and emails to its campaign list to raise money for organizations assisting the coronavirus relief effort, including Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
- Nicholas Wu
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Senate negotiating stimulus package with $1,200 payments