GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - The World Health Organization says the race to come up with a coronavirus vaccine is rapidly picking up speed.
The WHO director general said today more than 70 countries are now involved in research to develop effective treatments and about 20 institutions and companies are racing to develop a vaccine.
One trial already underway aims to reduce the risk to health care workers.It involves giving doctors and nurses doses of drugs like hydroxychloroquine to see if it lowers their risk of becoming infected.
However, the hope that hydroxychloroquine could be an effective treatment against the virus is causing a run on supplies in some U.S. states.
In Utah, Governor Gary Herbert is already seeing shortages of the drug, that was falsely attributed to a rumor that Utah authorities have taken over distribution of an antimalarial drug touted as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
A physician claimed on Twitter that he tried to prescribe hydroxychloroquine, but was told by a pharmacy that the state would not allow it. Governor Herbert responded, saying that high demand for the treatment could be creating shortages.
In New York, State health officials believe as many as 4,000 COVID-19 patients across the state have been given the anti-malaria drug to help fight off the coronavirus.
Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo said healthcare workers would be able to use the drug in combination with antibiotics to treat patients with severe cases of the virus.Fifty six hospitals across New York received doses of hydroxychloroquine.
Medical experts warn hydroxychloroquine has not been tested in clinical trials as a coronavirus treatment, and could cause side effects if used.