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[Updated with highlighted transcripts, commentary, and more video.]
The last week of April started with a Monday like recent Mondays, President Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force battling the Democrats posing as reporters. President Trump then changed the media programming formula with a very different look Tuesday through Thursday. There were meetings with three governors, one Republican and two Democrats. The president and the governors came across as competent leaders working together through a crisis. There were events highlighting one group or another of Americans affected by both the virus and the known side effects of Dr. Fauci’s prescription for America. Meanwhile, the Vice President was out of Washington, visiting the Mayo Clinic and then a repurposed GM plant where ventilators were already stacking up on shelves for shipment. I characterized the week as “from the White House Whirlwind Tuesday, through the Wednesday Whirlwind, to the Thursday Twister.” So, would there be another big-time wrestling battle royale on Friday?
No! Instead, President Trump turned the new queen of the cage, Kayleigh “Crusher” McEnany loose on the unsuspecting White House press corps. Their executives should have thrown in the towel, as she outmaneuvered the whole room. That happened earlier in the afternoon, clearing the way for another controlled, presidential event: “Presidential Recognition Ceremony: Hard Work, Heroism, and Hope.” You can hear the left grinding its teeth all across the country.
The press conference was short and oh so sweet, with smoothly integrated graphics. Kayleigh slayed with a smile. They didn’t even muss her hair. You be the judge:
It turns out I missed an event Thursday. I showed how four routine annual proclamations had special meaning in this time and circumstance, tying them together, but missed the live event. Not only did President Trump sign the Older Americans Recognition Month proclamation, but he also had a big event highlighting caring for older Americans.* He included the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and the governor of Tennessee. So, that was two governors on Thursday.
President Trump had planned to end the week with a celebration of ordinary Americans responding to the COVID-19 crisis, both the virus and the response to the virus, a response the medical experts, who we have seen repeatedly in the White House press briefings, knew would product more deaths due to well-documented fatal side effects, but failed to disclose to the president and the American people. The most senior official in charge of public health finally acknowledged the deadly side effects in a one minute video, and President Trump finally clearly voiced a part of the deadly tradeoffs, indicating he now has some doctors backing real public health.
When Dr. Fauci trumpeted the benefits of his preferred therapeutic, President Trump seized the opportunity to take away some of the controlling one-sided threats by Fauci and Birx. He used their rhetoric against them to drive the FDA to immediately issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), putting this drug to work limiting harm to hospitalized patients with COVID-19. This starts cutting away the Democrats’ plan to steal the November election with a supposed second great emergency, backed up, they hope, by Dr. Fauci.
Just before the big praise of Americans event, President Trump slipped in a brief Oval Office ceremony with the Gilead CEO. I found it noteworthy that, while Dr. Fauci had announced the limited efficacy of the drug, he was not present for the ceremony marking the president taking his word and driving it into much wider action, limiting the ability to keep making threats about COVID-19 deaths. Dr. Birx was there, instead, to affirm the drug’s use and to garner praise for herself and for Gilead in the long fight against HIV. Gilead has also produced an effective treatment for Hep-C, which used to be incurable.
All of which set up the final White House live event of the week, perhaps. The honor ceremony capped the first phase of the pandemic response, recognizing Americans, starting with a postal worker. This is just the sort of event President Trump loves, praising those who often are overlooked, telling good stories about American people. The Hard Work, Heroism, and Hope ceremony ran just under a half-hour. Excerpts from the full transcript [linked and emphasis added]:
Remarks by President Trump in a Presidential Recognition Ceremony: Hard Work, Heroism, and Hope
Issued on: May 1, 2020
4:47 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It’s a great honor to have you all. I know your stories. I got to read about your stories. In some cases, I knew your story without having to read about it — from Staten Island. So, thank you all very much. It’s a great honor to have you.
This afternoon, we’re going to recognize several individuals who have responded to the invisible enemy with courage, determination, and grace. Terrific people. In recent weeks, our nation has endured extraordinary hardships and loss, and we mourn with one heart for every life that’s been taken from us.
In the midst of so much pain, the heroes we honor today are a true source of inspiration for us all. You really are very great inspiration for us all. And the whole country is watching.
With us today is Kyle West from Cincinnati, Ohio. Kyle is 23 years old, and he’s proud to be a mailman in his hometown. I know Cincinnati very well. I actually worked in Cincinnati, and it was a great — the Queen City. I had a great experience. Many of the people on this route are older Americans in a low-income area. And as Kyle says of his job, “We’re not just mailmen, we’re mechanics, movers, and many other things. We’re part of the neighborhood.” That’s true, isn’t it — huh? — for a mailman. Kyle talks to roughly 500 of his customers each day, bringing a cheerful smile and a listening ear to every parcel of mail.
When the pandemic hit, Kyle delivered a note to hundreds of older Americans on his route. It said, “If you are at risk and need help getting essential items, let me know. I will do what I can to help.” That means you get it done, right? That’s what he means. “Sincerely, Mailman Kyle.” Since then, Kyle has received more than 400 responses, and he’s delivered vital groceries to dozens of senior citizens.
Kyle, your love for your neighbors lifts us and the entire nation. Would you come up and say a few words? Please. Thank you, Kyle. It’s terrific. (Applause.)
[. . .]
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. Thank you very much, Kyle.
Also with us are Libby Bish and Rafael Melo. And they’re real estate agents in Northern Virginia — great business, real estate. When one of their clients told them that his restaurant had been hit hard, Libby and Rafael decided they wanted to do something to help. They began raising money to buy food from restaurants to donate to local hospitals. Within a few weeks, they have raised over $6,000, made 18 deliveries, and fed over 500 healthcare workers.
And Libby and Rafael, please, I’d like to thank you and acknowledge you by having you step forward and say a few words. Please.
[Consider that this is an area with many residents not at all harmed by the government ordered destruction of the economy, since the federal government and state government keep their employees paid regardless of the burden they are imposing on the people paying their bills, like the restaurant owner. This is a nice gesture, but think about what a drop in the bucket $6,000 gross income, over 6 weeks now, is to a restaurant.]
[. . .]
THE PRESIDENT: Today, we also want to honor TJ Kim, a high school sophomore from McLean, Virginia. TJ hopes to serve as a pilot in the United States Navy. At just 16 year old — 16, boy, that’s a great age — TJ is already taking flight classes to get his pilot’s license. When he heard that hospitals needed more personal protective equipment, he launched his own mission, Operation SOS, which stands for Supplies Over the Skies.
He worked with his school, church, and community to collect medical supplies. With the help of the flight instructor, who probably was a very good person — what do you think? Pretty good?
MR. KIM: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Good flight instructor too?
MR. KIM: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Knows how to fly, right? Pretty good?
MR. KIM: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: You better take lessons from somebody that knows how to fly. But who also joins us today.
And TJ has flown and delivered more than 10,000 pieces of personal protective equipment. That’s pretty — that’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of flying too. That’s great. And there can be no better preparation for flying the military planes, right?
MR. KIM: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I think there can be nothing better.
But you’re going to four rural hospitals in Virginia. So, TJ, come on up and say a few words. Please, great honor.
Thank you. (Applause.)
[. . .]
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic story.
So a man that I know because I spent a lot of time — and spend in a place called Staten Island. Right? That’s true, Frank. You know that. Frank Siller from Staten Island, New York — a really special place. I spent many an hour — many a day with my father there over the years. And it’s just great.
Nearly two decades ago, Frank founded an organization called Tunnel to Towers to support the loved ones of the fallen for first responders and service members. He began this mission to honor the legacy of his younger brother, firefighter Steven Siller. And so, Steven is looking down right now and he says, “My brother is in the White House, doing a real job.” He’s very proud of you. I know how hard you work. Coming from New York, I guess, especially, Frank, I know how hard you work. And you’ve done a fantastic job. We appreciate it very much.
But he was one of the immortal heroes who gave his life on September 11th, 2001.
As the virus began to spread in New York earlier this year, Frank leapt into action. He helped raise money to deliver more than 1 million pieces of personal protective equipment — that’s a lot — for hospitals in the city.
Frank and his army of volunteers have delivered food to firehouses and phone stations and police stations and all sorts of places all across New York and New Jersey. Frank also raised over $5 million to help pay the mortgages of families — homes that have 25 first responders. I guess it’s a total of 25. So you have a lot of people that are very thankful, Frank. I’ve heard a lot about it. First responders and healthcare workers who have tragically lost their lives in the fight against the virus. It’s a vicious, vicious enemy.
Frank, I want to thank you for continuing to support our nation’s heroes. And, again, your family and your brother is very proud of you, looking down. And please come up and say a few words, Frank, please.
[. . .]
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Great job. Thank you, Frank. Thank you very much, Frank. Beautiful.
In this hour of need, the world has once again witnessed the unbeatable strength of the United States of America. All across our land, heroes have raced into action. Doctors and nurses are enduring sleepless nights to save every possible life. Farmers, truck drivers, and grocers are working to keep our shelves stocked and our people fed. Families are helping neighbors in need, and entire communities are rallying together to defeat the plague — this ugly, horrible plague.
The five Americans we recognize today are the first of a number of individuals we will honor in the coming weeks. We’re going to be honoring a lot of great people. Our nation has just completed the “30 Days to Slow the Spread,” during which every American was asked to make sacrifices to help defeat the virus.
Not long ago, models predicted that between 1.5 million and 2.2 million people would have died in the United States without the mitigation. Through our aggressive response and the remarkable commitment and bravery of American people, we have saved thousands and thousands of lives. I can even make that, if you want, hundreds of thousands of lives. People were thinking in terms of 1.5 million lives lost to 2.2 without the mitigation. And hopefully, we’re going to come in below that 100,000 lives lost, which is a horrible number nevertheless. It’s a horrible thing. It could’ve been stopped. It should’ve been stopped at source, but it wasn’t.
But it’s a tribute to this country and the people of our country what they’ve been able to do and the amount of lives that have been saved.
Because we’ve flattened the curve, slowed the spread, and massively expanded our healthcare capacity, we’re now in the process of gradually reopening our country. And it’s being done with a tremendous — a tremendous gusto and vigor. We see that all the time, don’t we, Frank? They want to get out there, and they want to get back. That’s what they want. They want their country back, and they’re getting it back. And we’re getting it back safely and we’re getting it back quickly.
It’s a strategy guided by science, evidence, facts, and reason. A never-ending lockdown would inflict colossal damage on the health and lifespans of our people. Public health is closely tied to economic health. No state or country can long ignore the facts and the truth. And we’re just very proud of the fact that people have put up with so much in order to keep the numbers down to the level. And it looks like we’ll be having our finished number.
[Look for more of this the first full week of May, with statements and figures presented in a way intended to walk around Fauci’s fraud or failure to practice the most basic standard of medical care in the United States. No doctor may prescribe or recommend an experimental treatment (which Dr. Birx admits this was) without full disclosure of known medical side effects. The known side effects should have been publicly briefed and quantified on charts in the press briefing room from Day 1. That part of the briefing should have been by the two fellows in the smart Navy-looking uniforms, with admiral ranks due to their positions in the Uniformed Public Health Service.
It should be something — you know, think of it: We could save anywhere from a million to even a million-five. And, I guess, if you think about it, we could save 2.1, 2.5 million lives, depending on what happens. And with this invisible enemy, as we said, nobody knows what really happens, but we’ve learned a lot in the last two months.
[This is Trump the promotor rolling out the biggest numbers, while not making the mistake of saying “we did.”]
Throughout our history, it’s America’s love and strength, not its fears and doubts, that have paved the way and paved the road to victory. Together, we’ll emerge from this chapter of hardship and all of those deaths of such great souls and such great people. With new unity and resolve, our people will thrive, our industries will roar, our innovators will astonish, and America will try triumph like never before. And that’s what I feel — like never before.
We built the greatest economy in the history of the world. Greatest employment numbers. Greatest stock market. Greatest number of jobs. Any way you want it. Greatest industries. Greatest creations. And one day, we had to close it down. They said, “Sir, we’re going to have to close it down.” And we did that. And everybody suffered, but they did an incredible job.
[This is Donald J. Trump, the man who went from boom to bust to boom in real estate and entertainment. It is President Trump, who built on his personal story with the story of America over the past 3 years.
And because of that, we’ve saved maybe millions of lives. And I just want to thank everybody. This is a scourge all around the world — 182 countries as of a week ago, so it’s probably higher. A hundred and eighty-two countries are going through relatively the same thing, and it’s a very sad — it’s a very sad chapter. There was no reason for this. There was no reason for this. This should’ve been stopped at the source.
[Here, President Trump is blaming the Chinese Communists for harming the whole world.]
But I’d like to congratulate these incredible five Americans. And I’d like to ask them to come forward and receive their award and their recognition. And they deserve it. And we’ll be watching you throughout your life. You may be around a little bit longer than me, Mr. Mailman, but I’ll be watching you as long as I can. I’m watching all of you, and I want to thank you very much. And to my hometown man, thank you very much. Thank you, Frank. Please.
Kayleigh McEnany closed her briefing with an announcement that President Trump would work from Camp David this weekend, calling world leaders, and would participate in a special event at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday evening. This confirms the Fox News townhall reported by the Hill:
Fox News announced Wednesday it will host a virtual town hall with President Trump on Sunday night focusing on COVID-19 and the reopening of the U.S. economy.
The program, “America Together: Returning to Work,” will be co-moderated by “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier and “The Story” anchor Martha MacCallum. It will be broadcast live from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The network said the president will answer viewer-submitted questions for 90 minutes of the two-hour event, which will begin at 7 p.m. ET.
Exit question: who handled the media mob best, Kayleigh, Sarah, or Sean? Who is your favorite?
Bonus questions: Do you like this week’s look or the daily battling brief better? Which do you think will be more effective in both catching viewership and shaping perceptions?
Closing observation: the last time we saw this special tension around a conservative woman was Condoleezza Rice. Back then, someone made a video with Cake’s “Short Skirt and a Long Jacket” playing under video of the Secretary of State. When will we see a new version with Kayleigh McEnany?
* Partial transcript, full transcript at link above.
Remarks by President Trump on Protecting America’s Seniors
HEALTHCARE | Issued on: May 1, 2020
April 30, 2020
4:25 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. Please.
This afternoon, I’ll sign a proclamation declaring the month of May to be Older Americans Month. I don’t know if I’m in that category. I have a feeling I am. But I feel good. And our country is making a lot of progress, Alex — I want to tell you that. Making a lot of progress.
As we honor the incredible contributions of our nation’s seniors, we are here today to discuss the unprecedented steps we that we’re taking to protect them from the virus. I’ll also announce vital new actions to safeguard our nursing homes and most vulnerable citizens as we gradually and safely reopen our country. And it’s very exciting to see what’s happening.
We’re joined today by Secretary Alex Azar. Thank you. Secretary Robert Wilkie. Robert, thank you very much. Administrator Seema Verma. Thank you. Great job. FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor and Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Joseph Lengyel. Thanks also to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, my friend. Thank you very much, Bill. Great job you’re doing. It’s great being with you, too. And many outstanding advocates for America’s seniors who are here with us today. Thank you all very much.
As we tragically have seen, the virus poses the greatest risk to older Americans. Together, as one nation, we mourn for every precious life that has been lost. And there have been many. There have been many. We’re so saddened by it.
Through aggressive actions and the devotion of our doctors and nurses, however, we have held our fatality rate far below hard-hit other countries such as Spain and Italy and United Kingdom and Sweden. We’re way below other countries.
We’re deploying every tool, resource, and power at our disposal to protect our seniors and Americans of every age and background.
** Remarks by President Trump in Announcement on Remdesivir [emphasis and annotations added]
HEALTHCARE | Issued on: May 1, 2020
3:37 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. And welcome to Dan O’Day, CEO of Gilead. You know what that is because it’s been in the news and the company has been in the news, and it’s a great American company that’s done incredible work on HIV and hepatitis C. And I hear that — that’s what’s happening with hepatitis is the great — a great medical story. Really, a great medical story. I’ve been hearing about that. It’s fantastic, Dan.
I’m pleased to announce that Gilead now has an EUA from the FDA for remdesivir. And you know what that is because that’s been the hot thing also in the papers and in the media for the last little while. An important treatment for hospitalized coronavirus patients. And it’s something — I spoke with Dr. Hahn and Dr. Fauci; I spoke with Deborah about it. And it’s — it’s really a very promising situation.
We’ve been doing work with the teams at the FDA, NIH, and Gilead for spearheading this public-private partnership to make this happen very quickly.
So, today, we’re going to be — and I’m going to let Dan do it — but we’re going to let Dan make a statement as to what the company is doing, making a contribution to, really, people that are not doing well, people that are sick, people that have this horrible plague that’s set into our country and that we’re getting rid of. And we’re going to be — we’re going to be having some really incredible results.
We have very promising studies coming out on the vaccines. We have promising studies coming out on therapeutics. And the first one is from Dan and Gilead. And I’d like to maybe have you say a few words, if you would, Dan, as to, number one, about remdesivir, to start off with, and also the contribution being made by your company. And we very much appreciate it.
MR. O’DAY: Sure. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you for having us here. Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for the collaboration that we’ve had.
Let me start by saying, on behalf of, I know, all the colleagues at Gilead, we want to thank all the collaborators that have brought remdesivir to this point. And that certainly includes NIH and Dr. Fauci and certainly Commissioner Hahn, and many, many more people that have been a part of this to bring this to where we are today.
And, in fact, really, the thanks go to the patients and the caregivers that participated in these clinical trials.
I also want to say I’m privileged to work with a group of amazing scientists at Gilead that, for decades, have been working on antivirals and were poised to put remdesivir immediately into clinical trials when we saw the COVID-19 circulating. So I’m really proud of the colleagues back at Gilead.
What I’d like to say is that, you know, on behalf of Gilead, to the President’s point, we feel a tremendous responsibility. We’re humbled by this being an important first step for patients, for hospitalized patients. We want to make sure nothing gets in the way of these patients getting the medicine. So we made a decision to donate about 1.5 million vials of remdesivir.
We’ll be working with the government to determine how best to distribute that within the United States. We’ll be working very closely to get that to patients, working with FEMA, working with other parts of the government to make sure that we get that to the patients in need as quickly as possible, because there are patients out there that can benefit from this medicine today that are hospitalized, and we don’t want any time to waste for that.
And we’re also fully committed to continue to expand the supply of this medicine. We started investing in this back in January, as soon as we became aware of the coronavirus. This is a long time to manufacture. It used to be 12 months; it’s now 6 months. Our scientists have brought that down.
And so as we get into the second half of this year, we’re able to have many more supplies available to patients. And we’re fully committed to working, Mr. President, with you and your administration to make sure that patients in need can get this important new medicine.
THE PRESIDENT: Dan, I really appreciate it. But I also noticed the incredible job you’ve done with HIV, which I — you know, I remember so well — 15 years ago, 16 years ago. It was a horrible thing. And I lived in New York. I lost a lot of friends through HIV. It was terrible. And also hepatitis C.
Could you give us just a quick moment on how successful that’s been? Because I’ve seen things that are pretty incredible and a lot of people don’t know.
[This gives credibility, a long track record on highly publicized, widely known deadly diseases.]
MR. O’DAY: Absolutely. And I’m reminded of Ambassador Birx and all of her work in this field as well. And we’ve worked — the colleagues at Gilead have collaborated for years, both in the developed and the developing world, on HIV.
I mean, it’s really astonishing. This is one of the reasons why, when I joined Gilead a while ago, the reason I joined is because of this progress. So you remember, of course —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MR. O’DAY: — back when HIV was a death sentence. And now, thanks to the scientists at Gilead and elsewhere, we’ve turned this into a, really, chronic disease and also a preventable disease.
And I want to give special thanks to the administration for the work on the HIV Prevention and PrEP Program that we’re working now in many particularly disadvantaged parts of our country to get more patients on prevention, because the best way, of course, to stop and to end this epidemic is a combination of treatment and prevention.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MR. O’DAY: And hepatitis C, I’m really happy to say that the scientists came up with a cure some years ago. And we’ve made tremendous progress, and including some really creative new arrangements in the United States, like with the state of Louisiana, where we’ve looked at ways to look at programs to make sure that every patient in a state is able to get the opportunity to be cured.
So I’m very proud that we have this kind of science, but also that we’ve put this science in way that gets access to patients.
THE PRESIDENT: And with hepatitis C, it’s an actual cure. It’s more than just keeping it down.
MR. O’DAY: Yeah. This is actually a cure.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s an actual cure.
MR. O’DAY: Twelve-week oral therapy cure. I mean, we’re still working on the HIV cure. We haven’t given up. It’s a much more difficult problem. We’ll probably get the long-acting medicines first.
THE PRESIDENT: Is that a more complex problem?
MR. O’DAY: Much more complex, and (inaudible) I’m really embarrassed to talk about this in front of Ambassador Birx. She should talk about this. (Laughs.) But it’s a complex to get the virus completely suppressed.
THE PRESIDENT: And where would you put corona in that level of complexity?
MR. O’DAY: Well, I think we’re still — it’s early days on coronavirus. I think this is the first step today. And I think what we’ll see — and it may be like with other viruses that we’ve seen: that with this base step, with an antiviral like remdesivir, that the way to actually even get better results is to add medicines on top of an antiviral. That has been — that was really how we were able to get HIV to a chronic illness: by a combination of therapies.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s very exciting.
MR. O’DAY: So this is the beginning. There’s a lot of great companies out there that are working on this, that we’re collaborating with, my colleagues in the industry. And we’re all working together to do everything we can.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s very exciting. And just so you know: So Dan is making, and the company, a very major contribution towards helping people. So we very much appreciate that. I mean, I’m talking about a monetary contribution, as well as, more importantly, what you’re doing scientifically. So we appreciate it very much.
Doctor, would you say a few words? The FDA has been moving things along at a level that they have never done before. And I appreciate it, Dr. Hahn.
DR. HAHN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. We really appreciate it.
So, as the President just announced, we authorized Gilead’s application for emergency use authorization for the use of remdesivir in hospitalized patients. That was issued today.
Thank you very much and congratulations, Mr. O’Day, for the great work from the company and the collaboration that we’ve had.
I also want to thank the more than 18,000 employees at FDA who have heeded the President’s call to reduce regulatory burden and red tape and move things forward. I think I said the other day this was lightning speed in terms of getting something approved. And from clinical trial to getting it authorized from the FDA, it’s been quite the speedy but also effective process.
This is an important clinical advance that showed a statistically significant reduction in time to recovery for patients with COVID-19. And it’s the first authorized therapy for COVID-19, so we’re really proud to be part of it, Mr. President. And thank you for your leadership.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. And, you know, Dr. Hahn left one of the most important jobs in medicine, as you know —
MR. O’DAY: I know.
THE PRESIDENT: — to take the FDA. And we’re glad he did.
MR. O’DAY: We’re grateful.
THE PRESIDENT: He was at a very important job and a tremendous reputation. But to take this job and — you’re doing great. So we’re really proud of you.
DR. HAHN: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
DR. BIRX: I’ll just be very brief. I think this really illustrates what can happen in such a short time. I mean, from the first case that was diagnosed in the United States to now our first step forward with a therapeutic in less than 90 days — for those of us who have worked in viral diseases and pandemics for a long time, this is our first really positive step forward. It’s our first step forward. Obviously, groups are still working on vaccines.
I just want to also thank the company for not only making sure this got into clinical trial, but for — for individuals who didn’t qualify for the clinical trial, they made compassionate-use drug available from the very beginning at our request and around the world. And I think that combination of really strong, scientific, rigorous clinical trials, but also, when you don’t really have something, to make compassionate use available was also really quite extraordinary.
So, again, also thank you for the patients, because obviously this was a randomized trial. There was a group that did not get the drug. It’s why the Data and Safety Monitoring Board stopped the trial, because of this statistical difference — because you can’t keep placebos on a trial when you already have shown significance in the treatment arm.
And so to the patients who were willing to be randomized and to the doctors who did the trials and the nurses who took care of them, we’re really very grateful because these — this clinical research is critical for these breakthroughs, but obviously there is someone getting the agent and there’s others that aren’t. And so that’s really been extraordinary.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Deborah. And, you know, while we’re here and we have the media, I’d like to just maybe have Alex discuss it for a second.
We will be AIDS-free as a country. And I used to say, two years ago, “Ten years.” And now we’re down to eight years, and maybe even sooner than that, working with Gilead and other companies and working with the great people that we’re dealing with medically in our country.
And maybe you could say something about that, Alex —
SECRETARY AZAR: Sure.
THE PRESIDENT: — because nobody knows you could even do that. But we’re looking to be AIDS-free within the United States within eight years. We started it — frankly, it could have been started in the previous administration, and they decided not to and I decided to do it.
So, please, Alex.
SECRETARY AZAR: Well, again, it’s — it’s a bit embarrassing to be talking about HIV/AIDS standing next to Dr. Birx. So — (laughs) — she’ll — she can correct me as we go.
But, really, thanks to President Trump’s leadership, the tools were there. The tools were there to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. But it was the President’s call in the State of the Union Address that brought everyone together, including this great company, Gilead, and the United States government, all of our partners to actually end the HIV epidemic.
And the tools are that you need to diagnose individuals. So part of that is getting people that are in underserved areas. We particularly have African American males in the southern rural communities. We have Native Americans. We have many underserved who are not getting diagnosed.
If we can get you diagnosed, we can get you on therapy if you are positive for the disease. And if you’re on therapy, and your viral load is undetectable, you are un-transmissible. You can’t give that virus to somebody else if you stay on therapy. And our amazing Ryan White Program has an incredible — over 80 percent — success rate at getting people who are positive to be undetectable by being compliant with their drugs.
And then, if you’re negative but you have behaviors that put you at risk for getting HIV, you can take PrEP. You can take the product that, with compliance, it keeps you at 97 percent chance that you won’t get the HIV disease also.
And so the tools are there. It’s about execution and blocking and tackling. And that’s what the President is leading, and we’ve gotten the funding from Congress for this. So we really have this in our grasp. But the tools were there, but it took President Trump’s call to action to make this a reality.
[A Republican president taking decisive actions towards eradication of a disease deeply embedded in leftist politics.]
THE PRESIDENT: My first year in office, I was being briefed, and they told me that this is a possibility, if we wanted to do it. I said, “Who wouldn’t want to do this?” And everything is a lot of money, but this is small money compared to what we’re talking about. And I’m somebody from New York who lost a lot of friends to AIDS, a tremendous number of friends. Some of the most talented people that I knew I lost to AIDS. And it’s incredible.
Do you have anything to add to what — because you are — I mean, you’re the real expert on AIDS and the eradication. Anything to add about eradication in our country?
DR. BIRX: Well, we just appreciate the government’s support on doing both domestic work and global work on HIV/AIDS, because obviously you also are invested in the PEPFAR program to really bring the same level of compassion and treatment to people around the globe to really control the epidemic around the globe. And this is a big step forward for all of us to really —
THE PRESIDENT: And what do you think of the timing? Is — am I right when I say about eight years?
DR. BIRX: Well, we are always — to actually control the pandemic, to make it controllable and smaller, that’s absolutely possible. To eradicate it, obviously we need a vaccine or a cure. There are groups working on that, under your direction, to really ensure that we have —
THE PRESIDENT: How is that coming?
DR. BIRX: We make forward progress in vaccines and then a little step backwards and then forward progress.
THE PRESIDENT: Tough work.
MR. O’DAY: Tough work.
DR. BIRX: It’s tough work.
MR. O’DAY: But we’re not going to give up.
DR. BIRX: And the cure is tough work. But your scientists are working on it around the clock and around the world.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. That’d be terrific. Mike? Please.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. President. I just appreciate the opportunity to express the gratitude that we all feel, Dan, to you and the incredible team of Gilead. And to think of the progress that you’ve made at such an extraordinary period of time — when the President brought the pharmaceutical companies here to the White House, you were among them. He said we wanted you to move out quickly on developing vaccines, but he said develop the therapeutics as quickly as you can.
We were told that it was possible that, by the spring, we would have therapeutics. And standing here on May the 1st, the very first therapeutic, with the emergency use authorization and the good work with FDA, is now available.
And — but donating 1.5 million doses, our task force will be working very closely with Gilead to make sure that those medicines, starting on Monday, are distributed to hospitals where patients are struggling with serious conditions with the coronavirus today.
And so I — Dan, I just — I hope you will carry back our gratitude, but I know the gratitude of the American people, when they see the incredible ingenuity and generosity of the team at Gilead.
God bless you.
MR. O’DAY: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mike.
MR. O’DAY: I appreciate that.
THE PRESIDENT: And, Adam, maybe you could say a few words. You were very instrumental in getting this done, and also on ventilators, getting us to be the kings and queens of ventilators. We have a lot of ventilators, and we’re helping countries all over the world now with ventilators, starting with almost none from the past. What do you have to say?
MR. BOEHLER: I think, thematically, it shows the strength of public-private partnerships that you’ve led and that you, the Vice President, that all of us have been working on.
You talked about ventilators. I know, Mr. Vice President, you just visited the GM plant, and you were looking — you saw GE making ventilators, how quickly we moved there.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.
MR. BOEHLER: This is just another example where you have a company, one of our best, that came up with the first therapeutic that shows the strength of our private business. The other thing I know that you guys did, Dan, that I really appreciate is you didn’t wait to start production. And that means we’re going to get the doses next week because they ramped up production and didn’t wait because they wanted to help Americans.
So I think it shows the strength of our private business, and I’m very proud to be an American.
THE PRESIDENT: So that would mean that you’re — you were so confident in what you were doing early on that you were able to project it in advance?
MR. O’DAY: I would love to — I would love to say we were that confident. We really weren’t. But we — but we saw the incredible human need and we said, in the event that this is successful —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
MR. O’DAY: — we have to plan for success. And that’s just the way that we operate. I am proud to work for a company that takes those type of decisions.
THE PRESIDENT: And how many doses are we getting, from the standpoint of the country and the contribution?
MR. O’DAY: So we — I mean, we’re — particularly with the news around the fact that some patients, as Dr. Hahn mentioned, can benefit from only five days of treatment, which I think is a real benefit, by the way —
THE PRESIDENT: Ah, I see. Good.
MR. O’DAY: — for patients to get five days of IV, and if they’re improving, to get out of the hospital. Great for them to get back to their loved ones. Great for reducing the burden on the healthcare system. And then, that 1.5 million doses goes longer, right?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
MR. O’DAY: So we’re talking, you know, about hundreds — more than 100,000 treatment courses — which again, we need more, and we’re still ramping up and we’re going to have more in the second half of the year —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a great — that’s a great start.
MR. O’DAY: — but at least it’s a start. And the most severe, the most serious patients, I think, were the ones that we’ll work with, with the Vice President and his team on, to make sure that we get it to the most serious patients first.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a great story. Thank you very much, Dan.
MR. O’DAY: Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank Gilead very much. (Applause.) That’s fantastic.
We’ll be seeing you all in a little while. Thank you very much. Thank you.
3:55 P.M. EDT