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Topic 18: Treatment of President Trump’s COVID-19

Topic 18: Treatment of President Trump’s COVID-19

Question: President Trump has been given monoclonal antibodies to treat his COVID-19. Is this treatment approved for COVID-19 or available to anyone?  

Answer: No. While some monoclonal antibodies are approved and used for conditions like asthma, there is no approved monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. The treatment that President Trump got is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies developed by a company, Regeneron. This “cocktail” of antibodies is still being evaluated in research studies; so, not yet approved and not available for routine use. However, it has shown promising results in early clinical trials.

What are monoclonal antibodies?

One of the ways the body tackles infections like COVID is by producing special proteins, called antibodies, to fight the infection. The body can produce different kinds of antibodies to fight any infection. What scientists do is look at the different antibodies produced by the body to select specific antibodies that are most capable of fighting the infection. Once identified, large quantities of such specific single antibodies (monoclonal antibodies) are made in the laboratory. The result is monoclonal antibodies that can be given to patients to fight the infection.

Monoclonal antibodies are still being researched

Many pharmaceutical companies have produced monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19. These drugs are now being tested for prevention of COVID in persons who have been exposed to the virus, and for treatment of persons who are already sick from COVID-19. The thought is that if given early, monoclonal antibodies may prevent progression to severe disease and hospitalization. Eli Lilly, another pharmaceutical company, has another monoclonal antibody that is also being researched.

For now, monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 are only available through research studies. This may change in the near future, if they are proven to be effective and safe.

What other treatments is President Trump receiving?

Lots, apparently. It has been reported that he is getting remdesivir. No hydroxychloroquine.