NEW YORK — New drugs to treat patients already infected with the novel coronavirus, which has sparked outbreaks across multiple continents, will emerge much more quickly than vaccines to prevent infection, a top Food and Drug Administration official said Wednesday.

“The development of a vaccine is not going to prevent a pandemic here,” Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told STAT at the SVB Leerink Global Healthcare Conference, ahead of a keynote presentation there. And getting a vaccine ready for pivotal testing is going to take more than just a few months, he said.

Marks’ words stand in contrast to recent comments from the White House. Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s director of the National Economic Council, said Tuesday that drug companies are “probably coming up with a vaccine in much shorter time than people realize,” adding that the U.S.’s containment effort is “pretty close to airtight.”

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