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Trump hails experimental treatment for his virus recovery, without providing evidence

President Donald Trump credited an experimental drug treatment with helping his recovery from Covid-19 and suggested his diagnosis could be a “blessing in disguise” in the nation’s battle against the pandemic. But there is no way for the president or his doctors to know whether the drug had any effect.

In a new White House video posted Wednesday evening, Trump said his illness had shed light on an experimental antibody cocktail that he tied to his improved condition. Seemingly sensitive to the fact that his treatment course has been far more comprehensive than the care received by average Americans, he promised to swiftly get the drug approved for broader use — and distribute it for free — even though he does not have the power to order that himself.

“I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president, because I feel great,” Trump said in a video from the Rose Garden. “I feel, like, perfect.”

Still, questions continue to swirl about the trajectory of Trump’s recovery and when he might be able to return to normal activities, including campaigning, less than four weeks before Election Day. The video marked Trump’s first appearance before a camera — albeit a White House-operated one — in nearly two days. The White House has released only limited details about his condition and treatment, leading to questions about what lies ahead for Trump.

Trump received an experimental antiviral cocktail made by Regeneron through a “compassionate use” exemption, a recognition of the above-and-beyond standard of care he receives as president. The safety and effectiveness of the drug have not yet been proven. And there is no way for the president or his doctors to know that the drug had any effect. Most people recover from Covid-19.

It’s not the first time the president has trumpeted an unproven treatment. He spent months painting the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a miracle treatment for the virus — taking a preventative course himself — even though experts have said it is not effective against Covid-19.

Trump hailed the Regeneron cocktail even as drugmaker Eli Lilly moves forward with its own similar treatment.

Eli Lilly formally asked the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday to allow emergency use of its experimental antibody-based on early results suggesting it reduces symptoms. There is no timetable for the FDA to make a decision, though the agency has moved on such applications within weeks.

Lilly says it could supply as many as 1 million doses of its therapy in the final quarter of 2020, with 100,000 available in October. Regeneron confirms it has also applied for emergency authorization, and said Wednesday it has enough doses for approximately 50,000 patients, and expects 300,000 available within the next few months.

The company said this advance production would allow the treatment to be distributed “immediately” if it were authorized by the FDA.

In the video, Trump continued to play down the threat of the virus, promising those who are ill that they’re going to “get