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Bill Gates says Trump’s coronavirus treatment won’t work for everyone, shouldn’t be called ‘cure’

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday that the Regeneron antibody cocktail administered to President Trump to treat a case of COVID-19 shouldn’t be referred to as a “cure.”

“The word ‘cure’ is inappropriate because it doesn’t work for everyone,” Gates told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But yes, of all the therapeutics, this is the most promising.”

Although an effective vaccine is an ultimate goal for putting an end to the pandemic, Gates noted that monoclonal antibodies allow for treatment that doesn’t require admission to a high percentage of the population.

“With the monoclonal antibodies, it’s only once somebody tests positive, show symptoms and they’re old enough they’re at risk,” Gates said. “That’s the target for this therapeutic.”

He added that if the monoclonal antibody treatments can be approved for an emergency use authorization in a timely manner, they will “save more lives than the vaccine will,” particularly if given in low doses.

“The president got eight grams and we’re trialing things that are down at more like 0.7 grams, and 0.3 grams,” Gates said. “Of course, that changes the cost and capacity a lot but that’s also unproven at this point, but it’s important that we explore.”


Gates is optimistic that antibody treatments, including those developed by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, could potentially earn an emergency use authorization within the next few months, but warned against the president’s recent push for the regulators to accelerate the approval timeline. 

“You don’t want politicians saying something should be approved because it’s wrong to think of political pressure as needing to be appropriate in these cases,” he said.

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As for vaccines, Gates said the majority of vaccines will likely get emergency use authorizations by early next year, with Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine potentially being an exception with a possible authorization by the end of this year.

“The phase three data is the key thing, particularly for the safety, making sure we’re not seeing side effects. So the tool is ramping up and, over the course of the first half of the year, those volumes will get to the point where we really will be asking Americans to, you know, step forward,” Gates said. “The effectiveness could range, you know, could be as low as 50% or as high as 80 [percent] or 90% and, different of the vaccines, some will fail completely and others will hit a very high bar. But we don’t know yet.”

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He added that almost all of the vaccines will

Covid-19 Live Updates: Treatment That Trump Called a ‘Cure’ Was Tested With Cells Derived From Fetal Tissue

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The antibody cocktail for Covid-19 that President Trump touted on Wednesday afternoon was developed with cells originally derived from fetal tissue, a practice that the president had repeatedly condemned.

In June 2019, the Trump administration suspended federal funding for most new scientific research involving fetal tissue derived from abortions.

“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a prepared statement.

“Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted,” the statement added.

Mr. Trump last week received Regeneron’s cocktail of monoclonal antibodies — essentially, antibodies synthesized in living cells and administered to help the body fight off the infection.

To develop the antibodies, Regeneron relied on 293T, a human cell line once derived from fetal tissue. At least two companies racing to produce vaccines against the coronavirus, Moderna and AstraZeneca, also are using the cell line.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug Mr. Trump received, also was tested using these cells.

“293Ts were used in testing the antibodies’ ability to neutralize the virus,” said Alexandra Bowie, a spokeswoman for Regeneron. “They weren’t used in any other way, and fetal tissue was not used in the research.”

In a video released Wednesday, Mr. Trump praised Regeneron’s treatment, calling it a “cure” for Covid-19 and promising to provide it free to any patient who needed it. The company said on Wednesday that it had applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.

Scientists noted that the trials of the antibody cocktail are far from complete, and that Mr. Trump is taking a variety of drugs that may have explained why he said he felt better.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In July, the International Society for Stem Cell Research sent a letter to the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board at the National Institutes of Health, urging the board to allow fetal tissue to be used to develop treatments for Covid-19 and for other diseases.

“Fetal tissue has unique and valuable properties that often cannot be replaced by other cell types,” the letter said.

In August, the board rejected 13 of the 14 proposals involving fetal tissue. The approved proposal relied on tissue that had already been acquired.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said on Thursday that he had been avoiding the White House since midsummer because of concerns that officials there were not taking proper precautions to guard

Trump Was Already Infected with COVID-19 When He Called Into Fox News on Thursday: Reports

Drew Angerer/Getty Images President Donald Trump heads to Marine One outside the White House en route to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday night.

Amid a wave of conflicting information from the White House about when President Donald Trump was first diagnosed with COVID-19, multiple news outlets now report the president knew he had already tested positive by the time he called into Sean Hannity’s Fox News program on Thursday night.

The president had already tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid test and was awaiting further confirmation from a more secure PCR test while he was speaking with Hannity, according to CBS News and The Wall Street Journal which cited White House sources.

Calling into the program from the White House, Trump revealed his close adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive earlier in the day, calling it a “terrible thing.”

Trump, 74, then told Hannity that he and First Lady Melania Trump, 50, were waiting on their own test results—but failed to mention he already tested positive on a rapid test earlier that afternoon.

“So whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” Trump said, referring to Hicks’ infection.

RELATED: Trump’s Chief of Staff Says President’s ‘Blood Oxygen Level Dropped Rapidly,’ Had ‘Fever’ on Friday

Shutterstock Donald Trump

The reports further extend the timeline of Trump’s infection last week, while White House officials and the president’s doctors have since given contradictory statements about the president’s current health status and when, or how, he contracted the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Trumps’ positive diagnoses added their names to the 7.4 million Americans who have contracted the virus, according to a New York Times tracker. At least 209,603 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 this year.

“Don’t tell anyone,” Trump reportedly told a senior aide after he initially tested positive on Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images President Donald Trump waves to onlookers during a brief trip outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday.

RELATED: Ivana Trump ‘Stressed’ and ‘Afraid’ Over Ex-Husband Donald’s Hospitalization: ‘He Was Careless’

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images Donald Trump’s doctors

A White House official told CBS News that the Trump administration learned Hicks had tested positive “minutes before” Trump took off for a fundraising event at his private golf club in New Jersey on Thursday, forcing some officials to stay behind from the trip while a likely infected Trump carried on with his travels despite knowingly being exposed to the virus.

The official told CBS News that the White House isn’t able to do rapid testing on the road and Trump only received the rapid test upon returning back to Washington, D.C., later that evening.

RELATED: Secret Service Agents Slam Trump’s Car Ride Outside Walter Reed While Hospitalized with COVID-19

Yuri Gripas/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock President Donald Trump returns from Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday.

The Times reported that an infected Trump came in contact with