April 17, 2021

Trump got Regenerons experimental antibody drug for his coronavirus symptoms. Heres what you need to know about the treatment.


President Donald Trump is taking Regeneron’s experimental antibody drug after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, the president said that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus and began isolating. The White House has said that both are “well at this time,” and The New York Times reported that the president has mild, cold-like symptoms.

Trump, 74, is at an increased risk for a more serious case of COVID-19 because of his age, weight, and sex.

In a memo released Friday, White House physician Sean Conley said Trump has received an injection of eight grams of Regeneron’s antibody drug. The New York biotech started clinical trials on June 11 for the experimental treatment, called REGN-COV2.

The physician’s statement noted Trump “remains fatigued but is in good spirits.” Conley also noted the president has also been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, and a daily aspirin.

Regeneron’s drug is an experimental treatment still in clinical trials. On September 29, the company released a description of early results from the first 275 volunteers in the non-hospitalized patient study.

Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoulos said the data confirmed the company’s belief that the drug is most likely to benefit people who did not mount an immune response before taking the drug. But trials are still ongoing, as the early results are not conclusive proof of efficacy.


What’s been working to treat COVID-19

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about how to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Read more: The 10 most promising coronavirus treatments that could help curb the pandemic, even without a vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to two coronavirus treatments: the antiviral remdesivir, and convalescent plasma, or blood infusions from recovered patients.

Others, including the steroid dexamethasone, have shown promise in patients with acute infections.

Treatments created to specifically fight the novel coronavirus including the antibody treatment Trump received have shown some promise in early studies, but none are yet approved by regulators in the US for wide use.

Read more: We’re getting a slew of promising data on a new kind of coronavirus drug. Here are the 9 top drugmakers racing to develop antibody treatments for COVID-19.

Some treatments haven’t proven useful, including hydroxychloroquine

We’ve also learned more about what’s less effective at treating COVID-19.

Throughout March and April, Trump consistently touted the prospects of hydroxychloroquine by name.

Early studies from France and China encouraged many doctors, as well as Trump, by appearing to show promising signs that the drug may work. The FDA issued an emergency approval to treat hospitalized patients in late-March. A top-ranking government official later claimed there was political pressure put on the agency to greenlight the drug. 

These initial findings were severely flawed by the limitations of the studies. The trials enrolled tiny groups of patients or lacked a control group to compare the results against. Studies that enrolled more people and tested the pills against a placebo group consistently found no benefit for hydroxychloroquine.

These negative trial results, which have been published in top peer-reviewed medical journals, found hydroxychloroquine didn’t prevent COVID-19 in people exposed to the virus, nor did it help hospitalized patients recover faster.

In June, the FDA revoked the emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. In its statement explaining the reversal, the FDA noted serious heart-related side effects the treatment can cause. The agency concluded those risks do not outweigh any potential benefits in treating COVID-19.

Read more: A spate of advancements suggest new coronavirus treatments could be on the horizon — here’s the latest

Something is loading.