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Trump says UK asking for 200 'desperately needed' ventilators from US for Covid-19 crisis

On Monday, US president met pharmaceutical companies developing cures for Covid-19

US President Donald Trump during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, April 6, 2020. Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, April 6, 2020. Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Britain had asked for 200 "desperately needed" ventilators to help it combat the coronavirus pandemic.

"The UK called today and they wanted to know if it would be possible to get 200 (ventilators) and we're going to work it out, we've got to work it out," he told the daily Covid-19 press conference at the White House.

"They've been great partners. They wanted 200, they need them desperately".

Mr Trump offered his thoughts and prayers to British leader Boris Johnson, who is intensive care after testing positive for the virus last month.

"We pray for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He's become a great friend of ours," he said.

“He loves his country but he loves the USA and he has always been very good to us.

"Whenever we have had difficulty he has been with us and we appreciate it."

Earlier, Downing Street rejected Mr Trump’s offer on an experimental coronavirus treatment for Mr Johnson.

“We’re confident the prime minister is receiving the best possible care from the National Health Service," Mr Johnson's spokesman said on Tuesday.

"Any treatment he receives is a matter for his doctors."

Mr Trump said on Monday that he would ask drug makers with which the US government is working to “contact London immediately” about treating Mr Johnson.

The British leader was admitted to hospital on Sunday after testing positive to the virus.

Mr Johnson is now in intensive care, but is said to be stable and “in good spirits”. He is being given oxygen but is not on a ventilator.

On Monday, Mr Trump met drug makers Amgen, Genentech, Gilead and Regeneron, which are conducting clinical trials of treatments for the coronavirus, but none have yet been proved to work.

Their drugs are not yet available on the market.

“I’ve talked to four of them today and they speak a language that most people do not understand, but I understand something," Mr Trump said.

"They’ve really advanced therapeutics and they’ve arrived in London already. Their London office has whatever they need and we will see if we can be of help.

“It’s rather complex and has had really incredible results. We are working with London with respect to Boris Johnson.

“They are there and they are ready.”

Gilead’s drug, remdesivir, has not been tested and would only be available if specifically requested by a patient’s doctor, a spokeswoman for the company said on Tuesday.

Scientists say the medication, which was developed more than a decade ago, could help to treat Ebola, Sars, Mers and Covid-19.

In 2014, it was tested as an efficient treatment for Sars but the outbreak ceased before it was made available to the public.

“It is critical we do these clinical trials and show its efficacy," the company said. "It would be irresponsible to make it widely available."

On Thursday, Amgen announced a strategic partnership with Adaptive Biotechnologies to co-develop fully human antibodies against the coronavirus.

Amgen obtained viral gene sequences from hundreds of patients.

Hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, are also being tried to determine whether they can treat coronavirus.

Chloroquine is already approved for treating malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Mr Trump has touted the drug as a “miracle cure” and the US has gathered 29 million doses of it.

But Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease doctor, has repeatedly warned that there is no conclusive evidence to support using the drug, which should not yet be considered for treatment.

Updated: April 8, 2020 08:48 AM

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