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Promising coronavirus treatment called off years ago — because Big Pharma didn’t see profit potential

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A medical researcher revealed that a possible treatment for all forms of coronavirus had been developed more than a decade ago, but work on the drug had been called off because pharmaceutical companies didn’t see any profit potential.

Years later, a novel coronavirus outbreak has destroyed the global economy and threatens millions of lives, and Dr. William Haseltine told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that government action was now needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The good news is that there will be an end to this epidemic, whether it’s a natural end and it goes away or whether we develop the drugs that are antiviral drugs that we know we can develop,” said Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School professor and founder of its cancer and HIV/AIDS research departments.

Haseltine said researchers had developed a promising treatment for coronavirus after the SARS outbreak killed nearly 800 people in 2003.

“From my perspective, it’s a tragedy that never needed to happen,” he said. “Many of us were very clear in warning, this will come back. We had it as early as 2004, 2005, a whole set of chemical compound that would be very likely to treat not only the SARS virus but all coronaviruses. We stopped the development of those drugs. My fervent hope is that we will not stop it now.”

“Why did we stop?” he added. “Because there was not an economic model that pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies could use. Well, that is a perfect time for the government to step in and provide the incentives necessary.”

Haseltine himself worked on those drugs that were intended for use against bioterrorist attacks, but he said government officials and pharmaceutical executives had ignored researchers’ warnings and halted their development.

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“We did that, develop drugs against bioterrorist weapons,” he said. “I helped to develop one of those drugs, so I know those mechanisms exist. We just didn’t use them to protect ourselves. What I and many public health officials said will be a next epidemic. Let’s hope we don’t stop the development of these drugs prematurely so we have them for the next, and the next and the next wave of epidemics that are surely coming over the next 20 years.”


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This Europe country is housing quarantined coronavirus patients in a five-star hotel

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An ambulance driver wearing a white protective gown enters a Barcelona hotel and announces the arrival of three new "customers" -- a trio of coronavirus patients discharged from hospital into luxury quarantine.

"Good morning! How are you? My name is Enrique Aranda and I am probably the first non health care worker you see in several days," says the director of the five-star Melia Sarria hotel, peering into the ambulance.

It took just three days to convert the hotel, which features contemporary decor and bathrooms with marble finishing, into a clinic.

"Some patients arrive thinking that they were taken out of hospital to be left to die, many people are frightened. I try to make them forget all that," said Aranda, wearing mask and gloves.

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UK Labour to unveil new leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn

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Britain's main opposition Labour party on Saturday unveils a new leader who will take the helm of a defeated and divided party in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Keir Starmer, a former director of state prosecutions and Labour's Brexit spokesman, is the runaway favourite to win the ballot of around 500,000 party members and succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

The announcement will be a low-key affair, with a planned special conference cancelled due to restrictions on social gatherings imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, the result will be put out in a press release mid-morning -- and candidates have been asked to pre-record their victory speeches.

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‘Trump fires people for telling the truth’: President blasted for ‘dead of night decision’ to fire intel watchdog

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President Donald Trump was harshly criticized on Friday for firing intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senate Intel Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) were among the lawmakers who took to Twitter to criticize Trump on his favorite social media platform.

Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's decision:

Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.

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