Rose Garden Washington D.C. March 29 5:43 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much. Appreciate everybody being here. Beautiful day in the Rose Garden. Tremendous distance between chairs. Social distancing. You practice it very well. We appreciate it. That's great.
I want to start today by highlighting several critical developments on both the testing and treatment that will help us win our war against the coronavirus.
On Friday, the FDA authorized a new test developed by Abbott Labs that delivers lightning-fast results in as little as five minutes. That's a whole new ballgame. I want to thank Abbott Labs for the incredible work they've done. They've been working around the clock. Normally, this approval process from the FDA would take 10 months, and even longer, but we did it in four weeks. Abbott has stated that they will begin delivering 50,000 tests each day, starting this week.
And as you know, even before this development, we've been doing more test - tests than any other country anywhere in the world. It's one of the reasons that we have more cases than other countries, because we've been testing. It's also one of the reasons that we're just about the lowest in terms of mortality rate, because we've been doing more testing. So we have bigger numbers to look at.
I want to also thank General Semonite, of the Army Corps of Engineers, and General Polowczyk, who's here with us, who's going to say a few words in a little while. What the Army Corps of Engineers did, along with FEMA, in New York was incredible. They built 2,900 beds' worth of hospital. An incredible hospital in the Javits Center, which I know well. And I just want to say that was unreal. They did it in less than four days. People have never seen anything like that. And it's an incredible, complex, top-of-the-line hospital. They did it so quickly. Everyone is trying to figure out how they did it, including me - and I was a good builder. But they did it very quickly, Mike. So we're very - we're very happy.
So I want to thank Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA - the incredible job they have done.
Now they're moving to other locations throughout the country where they already have people building hospitals. We're doing them in Louisiana and New Jersey - many, many other places. But these are incredible men and women, and they worked around the clock.
And the people of New York are very happy. Governor Cuomo expressed his thanks, which we appreciate. But these are - I mean, there's nobody could have done a job like that. Most people have never seen anything like it.
The deployment of rapid testing will vastly accelerate our ability to monitor, track, contain, and ultimately defeat the virus. We will defeat the virus. It will also allow us to test doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers immediately and enable us to act quickly and aggressively to shut down the spread of the virus - so important - in critical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. And we will ensure that we can give cities and states the best information to guide local decision makers and making.
I want to point out that the hydroxychloroquine is being administered to 1,100 patients - people in New York - along with the Z-Pak, which is azithromycin. And it's very early yet; it's only - it started two days ago. But we will see what happens.
I want to thank Stephen Hahn, who's a great doctor - left one of the best jobs in our country running an incredible Hospital in Texas. And he's the head of the FDA. And Stephen got approval for that so fast. Let's see how it works. It may, it may not. But we may have some incredible results. We're going to know soon. So it's tested - it's being tested on 1,100 people in New York.
The FDA is also allowing the emergency use of a blood-related therapy called convalescent plasma as an experimental treatment for seriously ill patients. This treatment involves taking blood plasma from patients who have already recovered from the virus. So they've recovered; they're strong. Something was good in them that worked. And so we take the plasma from those people that have recovered so well - meaning, their plasma is rich in antibodies against the virus - and transfusing it into six [six] patients - sick patients, very - very, very powerfully.
So, sick patients will be transfused with the blood taken to boost their immune system. We'll see what happens. And we're having some early results that are good, but we will see. And that's going, I think, very rapidly. Again, we got approvals in, really, very quick time.
We're also looking at an approval for the sterilization of masks. I kept saying to myself - I'd see some of the masks are very complex. We're delivering millions, by the way. Millions. But I kept saying, "Why aren't they able to use that mask a second, third, fourth time?"
And Mike DeWine, the great governor of Ohio, called me. They have a company that is in the final process of getting approval for the sterilization of masks, and in some cases, depending on the mask - some of these masks are very, very strong, very powerful, very strong material - they're able to sterilize the mask up to 20 times. So that's, I guess, like getting 20 masks. And so we worked on that. As soon as I heard from Mike today, I got involved, and the FDA is now involved. And we're trying to get a fast approval for the sterilization of masks. That would be a tremendous difference. That would be really helpful.
While much of the research has to be done - we have a lot of research left to do, obviously - this treatment on plasma has shown promising results in other countries. We're in communication with other countries, and very strong communications. And they're very reliant on us in just about all cases. We have the greatest people in the world. They're very, very anxious to find out how we're doing on our different things, whether it's a cure or whether it's really anything having to do with getting people better. We have some interesting things will be announced, I think over the next few weeks, but we'll see what happens. They're being tested right now.
The vaccines are moving along very rapidly. The vaccines are an answer, but I'd like to see if we could do something therapeutically so that we could take care of the people that are already sick. And we're working on that at a level that people would be amazed. These are incredible people. They don't stop.
This method also has been used for more than a century - and that's the blood-related therapy - you know, more than a century to fight off infectious diseases. So it's not unusual. Our level of complexity has changed, but it's a concept that's been used for a long time, including during the Spanish Flu epidemic. And that was really a pandemic of proportions like, frankly, nobody has seen until what we're facing now. That was in 1918. You know what the result of that was; probably from 75 to 100 million people were killed.
And also, other viruses, like the one in this outbreak - this is a very tough one. This is a tough one because it spreads so quickly, like nothing we've seen. It spreads so easily, so quickly.
We're unleashing every tool in our nation's vast arsenal - economic, medal [sic] - medical. If you look, medical, and scientific, military. Homeland Security is working very, very hard with all of them in order to vanquish the virus.
As you know, every level of government - state, local, and federal - is working nonstop to obtain more personal protective equipment for frontline workers. We're delivering vast orders of this material. I'm going to ask a couple of the people here to join me that both make it and deliver it.
Joining us today are the leaders of America's largest distributors of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, including McKesson, Cardinal Health, Henry Schein, Owens & Minor, Medline, FedEx, and UPS. We just concluded a very productive meeting about ways to keep our supply chains and delivery systems moving at top speed.
And maybe I'd like to just ask for a couple of minutes for Mike Kaufmann to come up, and maybe Ed Pesicka. Mike is with Cardinal and Ed is Owen & Minor.
But I - and I appreciate. And if anybody else has anything, please come up. But if you could come up, Mike, for a second and, Ed, for a second. Just, if you could maybe say what you told me before when we had the meeting. Thank you.
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