President Trump has pledged to release billions in funding to fight the coronavirus. Now, information from the Federal Procurement Data System shows well over $3.02 billion has been spent to date, almost half of which has come out of the Health and Human Services (HHS) department. UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech startup Alchem Laboratories has received almost $21 million to test two potential therapies to treat COVID-19.
The U.S. is aggressively pursuing the use of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible COVID-19 treatment. Whilst Trump has promoted the substance, Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned there’s no proof it can be used to prevent the coronavirus. The biggest contract to test Trump’s theory that it’ll work on COVID-19 is a $20.7 million contract revealed on Tuesday between the HHS department and Florida’s Alchem Laboratories. As per the contract description, the money is paying for a “trial of the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and the combination of hydroxychloroquine and famotidine for the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19 disease.” Famotidine, which is perhaps better known by its brand name Pepcid, is designed to decrease stomach acid production. It’s unclear what link it has to the treatment of the coronavirus. (Alchem hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.)Read more about $20 Million On An Unproven Malaria Drug, $650 Million On A Coronavirus Cure: How Trump’s Government Has Spent Over $3 Billion Fighting COVID-19.