Donald and Melania Trump watch the smoke of fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2020 (via Getty)

Which drug de­vel­op­ers of­fer Trump a quick, game-chang­ing ‘so­lu­tion’ as the pan­dem­ic roars back? Eli Lil­ly and Ab­Cellera look to break out of the pack

We are un­leash­ing our na­tion’s sci­en­tif­ic bril­liance and will like­ly have a ther­a­peu­tic and/or vac­cine so­lu­tion long be­fore the end of the year.

— Don­ald Trump, Ju­ly 4

Next week ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials plan to pro­mote a new study they say shows promis­ing re­sults on ther­a­peu­tics, the of­fi­cials said. They wouldn’t de­scribe the study in any fur­ther de­tail be­cause, they said, its dis­clo­sure would be “mar­ket-mov­ing.”

— NBC News, Ju­ly 3

Some­thing’s cook­ing. And it’s not just Ju­ly 4 left­overs in­volv­ing stale buns and un­eat­en hot dogs.

Over the long week­end ob­servers picked up signs that the fo­cus in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion may swift­ly shift from the bright spot­light on vac­cines be­ing promised this fall, around the time of the elec­tion, to in­clude drugs that could pos­si­bly keep pa­tients out of the hos­pi­tal and take the po­lit­i­cal sting out of the soar­ing Covid-19 num­bers caus­ing em­bar­rass­ment in states that swift­ly re­opened — as Trump cheered along.

So far, Gilead has been the chief ben­e­fi­cia­ry of the dri­ve on drugs, swift­ly of­fer­ing enough ear­ly da­ta to get remde­sivir an emer­gency au­tho­riza­tion and in­to the hands of the US gov­ern­ment. But their drug, while help­ful in cut­ting stays, is known for a lim­it­ed, mod­est ef­fect. And that won’t tamp down on the hur­ri­cane of crit­i­cism that’s been tear­ing at the White House, and buf­fet­ing the pres­i­dent’s most stal­wart core de­fend­ers as the econ­o­my suf­fers.

We’ve had pos­i­tive ear­ly-stage vac­cine da­ta, most re­cent­ly from Pfiz­er and BioN­Tech, play­ing catchup on an mR­NA race led by Mod­er­na — where every lit­tle sign of po­ten­tial trou­ble is mag­ni­fied in­to a lethal threat, just as every ad­vance ex­cites a fren­zy of sup­port. But that race still has months to play out, with more Phase I da­ta due ahead of the mid-stage num­bers loom­ing ahead. A vac­cine may not be avail­able in large enough quan­ti­ties un­til well in­to 2021, which is still wild­ly am­bi­tious.

So what about a drug so­lu­tion?

Trump’s ini­tial sup­port for a panacea fo­cused on hy­drox­y­chloro­quine. But that fiz­zled in the face of da­ta un­der­scor­ing its in­ef­fec­tive­ness — killing tri­als that aren’t like­ly to be restart­ed be­cause of a re­cent pop­u­la­tion-based study of­fer­ing some sup­port. And there are a num­ber of ex­ist­ing drugs be­ing re­pur­posed to see how they help hos­pi­tal­ized pa­tients.

Endpoints Premium

This article is available only to Premium subscribers

Upgrade to Premium for unlimited access and Premium exclusives.