President Trump continued to hail an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment as a “cure” for COVID-19, telling conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh in a Friday interview that it sped his recovery from the disease and was “better than a vaccine.”
“I was not in great shape, but we have a medicine that healed me, that fixed me,” Trump said of the antibody “cocktail” manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. “It’s a great medicine. I recovered immediately.”
Since being released on Monday from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was treated for three days after being admitted with a high fever, chills and breathing problems, Trump has often pointed to the antibody therapy he undertook at the hospital as a “cure” for COVID-19. There is no known cure for the disease caused by exposure to the coronavirus, and the FDA has not, so far, approved the drug’s use for treating COVID-19.
Just as he had done with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he took in May as a prophylactic against COVID-19, the president didn’t hesitate describing Regeneron’s “cocktail” in the most glowing possible terms.
“We have a cure. More than just a therapeutic, have a cure,” Trump said of the antibody treatment, adding, “This is better than a vaccine.”
Both Regeneron and the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly have released limited studies showing that monoclonal antibody treatments can decrease the viral load of COVID-19 in patients who have not been hospitalized for the disease. Trump’s assertions about the drug have not been proved in any study, and he received other drugs, including remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone, since testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, Oct. 1.
On Tuesday, Trump voiced his frustration with the Food and Drug Administration for requiring drug manufacturers to follow safety protocols that will slow the availability of a vaccine until after the Nov. 3 election.
New FDA Rules make it more difficult for them to speed up vaccines for approval before Election Day. Just another political hit job! @SteveFDA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
Perhaps the central issue in the presidential election is Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and during his rambling two-hour phone call with Limbaugh, the president again complained about not receiving enough praise for his administration’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
“We’ve done such a good job on the pandemic. We get zero credit,” Trump said.
As of Friday afternoon, at least 7.6 million Americans had tested positive and at least 213,000 had died from COVID-19, far more than in any other country.
On Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine broke precedent and for the first time in its history published an editorial calling for a president to be voted out of office. The editors disagreed that Trump did “such a good job on the pandemic.”
“We know that we could have done better. China, faced with the first outbreak, chose strict quarantine and isolation after an initial delay. These measures were severe but effective, essentially eliminating transmission at the point where the outbreak began and reducing the death rate to a reported 3 per million, as compared with more than 500 per million in the United States,” the editorial stated. “Countries that had far more exchange with China, such as Singapore and South Korea, began intensive testing early, along with aggressive contact tracing and appropriate isolation, and have had relatively small outbreaks. And New Zealand has used these same measures, together with its geographic advantages, to come close to eliminating the disease, something that has allowed that country to limit the time of closure and to largely reopen society to a prepandemic level. In general, not only have many democracies done better than the United States, but they have also outperformed us by orders of magnitude.”
While Trump again pledged Friday that his administration would rush the antibody drug to hospitals so that COVID-19 patients could receive it “free of charge,” he did not include specifics as to how the expensive treatment would be funded. Nor did he update the status of possible emergency use approval from the FDA for the drug, saying only that he had already “signed it.”
Founded in 1812, the New England Journal of Medicine is considered perhaps the world’s leading medical journal, publishing research on drugs, research and medical treatment. After reviewing the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, its editors concluded that the president’s leadership had been “dangerously incompetent.”
“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs,” the editorial stated.
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