The president is receiving remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has shown modest benefits for some people, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and has “completed his first dose and is resting comfortably,” according to a late Friday statement from his physician.
Remdesivir was developed in partnership with government agencies and at least $70 million from U.S. taxpayers. For doctors and researchers, clinical studies have reinforced questions about the effectiveness of the drug and who is best suited to receive it. The most conclusive evidence shows it reduces hospital stays from 15 to 11 days but does not significantly reduce the odds of dying of the coronavirus.
Earlier Friday, Trump’s physician said the president had received an “antibody cocktail” and was “fatigued but in good spirits.” That update came shortly before the president was flown to Walter Reed “out of an abundance of caution.”
The “cocktail” administered to Trump is an experimental treatment made by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron and is one of the most promising known. Experts say it could be the best bet for fighting the virus.
“Following PCR-confirmation of the president’s diagnosis, as a precautionary measure he received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail,” White House physician Sean Conley said in a statement.
He said the president completed that treatment “without incident,” and that Trump was also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin.
Regeneron manufactures the drug, a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, from hamster ovary cells. It’s meant to reduce the virus’s lethality by boosting a patient’s immune defense. Early data from the drug’s trials are encouraging but preliminary. When it works, it can prevent an illness from progressing to the point where a person may need to be hospitalized or put on a ventilator.
In a statement, Regeneron confirmed that it provided the president with the treatment after his physicians filed a “compassionate use” request, a rare exception to the drug’s use, which at this point is mainly confined to clinical trials.
“In addition to the clinical trial supply and product being manufactured under an agreement with the U.S. government,” the statement read, “there is limited product available for compassionate use requests that have been approved under rare, exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis.”