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Worldwide COVID-19 Cases Now More Than 220,000: Could Inexpensive Malaria Treatment be Key to Stopping Pandemic?

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The number of worldwide coronavirus cases tops 220,000 as Chinese health officials claim for the first time they have no new domestic cases of the illness. 

In the US, we have more than 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. On Thursday, President Trump said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to speed up a COVID-19 vaccine and other potential therapies. While no treatment is approved to fight the virus right now, that could reportedly change in the near future. 

President Trump and members of the Coronavirus Task Force were back in the White House's James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Thursday to present the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump said he has called on the FDA to streamline its processes to speed up the development of therapies aimed at treating the coronavirus.

The FDA commissioner says they are looking at everything to help treat patients.

"There's a cross-agency effort about something called convalescent plasma," said Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner. "The FDA has been working on some time for this. We could collect the blood of those who've recovered, concentrate that and give it to other patients." 

President Trump also said that an old and relatively inexpensive malaria treatment has shown "encouraging early" results as a COVID-19 treatment. 

"We continue our relentless effort to defeat the Chinese virus," Trump said. 

That effort includes the first clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Trump said he's "slashing red tape" by ordering the FDA to remove barriers and proceed rapidly with finding a safe treatment, including testing drugs like hydroxychloroquine, a malaria treatment showing encouraging early results against the coronavirus.  

"It's been around for a long time and it's very powerful. But the nice part is it's been around for a long time .so if we know if things don't' go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody. When you go with a brand new drug you don't know," the President said. 

After signing a $100billion stimulus plan, Trump's now pushing Congress to approve another trillion-dollar package to help the economy

"We are working with Democrats and Republicans. There is a lot of goodwill coming on," he said. 

But those plans could face complications after two members of Congress tested positive for COVID-19 and other lawmakers are in self-quarantine. 

"I'll follow good sound medical advice, but it's important we stay functioning here," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) "We've been through worse as a nation. This is tough. It's difficult." 

"Today as the president indicated we expect that the Senate will begin work on an economic relief package," said Vice President Mike Pence. 

New York state is offering financial relief for residents where virus cases have topped 4,000.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ordered three-quarters of the workforce to stay home. 

"Stay home. If you have to go out to shop for essential services, go out to shop," Cuomo said. "if you have to help family members, help the family members with the problem."

"Some people would say it's an act of God, I don't view it as an act of God. I would view it as something that surprised the whole world," President Trump said. 

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