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An unusual patient, an unusual treatment: Trump and the risks of ‘VIP syndrome’

With unlimited access to resources and the nation’s finest physicians by his side, President Donald Trump may reasonably expect to be treated with a higher level of care and attention than the average American infected with COVID-19.

Experts say that may not be a good thing.

On Friday, after the White House revealed that the president had been given an unapproved but promising antibody cocktail, medical professionals warned that his special treatment, known colloquially in medical circles as “VIP syndrome,” may have adverse effects.

“When a patient is high profile, there’s a temptation to break away from the standard medical care that you would give to any other patient — and sometimes to the disadvantage to the patient, the VIP,” said Dr. Mark Siegel, a Yale academic and physician.

PHOTO: Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, briefs reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 3, 2020. Trump was admitted to the hospital after contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, briefs reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 3, 2020. Trump was admitted to the hospital after contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, briefs reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 3, 2020. Trump was admitted to the hospital after contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s personal physician, said at a Saturday press briefing that Trump is “receiving all the standard of care and beyond.”

“We are maximizing all aspects of his care, attacking this virus with a multi-pronged approach,” he said. “I didn’t want to hold anything back. If there was any possibility that it would add value to his care and expedite his return, I wanted to take it.”

Shortly before Marine One swept the president off to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday, the White House announced that the president had been administered a dose of an unproven antibody therapy developed by drugmaker Regeneron.

Regeneron’s treatment has not been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. The company said in a statement that the president was granted approval to use it as part of a “compassionate use” clause, which clears the way for legal access to an experimental drug outside of a clinical trial.

Experts said there’s evidence the antibody cocktail may improve the president’s condition, but it carries the risk of producing unexpected side effects.

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