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PhRMA closes DC headquarters after visitor tests positive for coronavirus

PhRMA closes DC headquarters after visitor tests positive for coronavirus
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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) on Tuesday closed its headquarters in Washington, D.C., for the remainder of the week after a recent visitor tested positive for the coronavirus.

“PhRMA learned last night that an individual who attended a meeting at our Washington, D.C., headquarters has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. The person diagnosed is not a PhRMA employee and was last in our offices on March 5,” a spokesperson for the lobbying group said in a statement to The Hill. “We have also asked those individuals who were in the meeting with the diagnosed person to self-quarantine and not return to our offices until March 20.”

PhRMA said it will conduct a deep cleaning of the offices while they're closed.

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Biogen, a PhRMA member, has disclosed that several of its employees have been exposed to coronavirus, STAT reported Tuesday. PhRMA did not say whether the cases are related.

D.C. has five cases of coronavirus but no reported deaths. There are at least 790 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 27 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl spoke on a panel with senior executives from Merck, Johnson & Johnson and others last week to discuss the industry’s response to the virus.

“PhRMA remains committed to combating the epidemic, and our companies are continuing to actively research and develop potential treatments and vaccines,” the spokesperson said.

Efforts to develop a vaccine for the virus are underway through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Results are not expected for at least 12 months.