Following President Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, he has been given an experimental antibody treatment not yet approved for broad use, a course of an antiviral drug shown to help hospitalized coronavirus patients and a steroid typically used for severe COVID-19 cases.
White House physician Sean Conley on Friday afternoon announced Trump was given a single 8-gram dose of biotechnology company Regeneron’s experimental antibody cocktail named REGN-COV2. The drug has not yet been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in any patients. He was also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and aspirin.
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Regeneron last week said preliminary results from an ongoing clinical trial of the drug showed the treatment improved symptoms and reduced levels of the virus in nonhospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 with no serious side effects.
While Regeneron did not detail what the potential side effects of the treatment could be, mild reactions to IV-therapies include fever, chills and fatigue. More serious symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath, according to Medical Xpress.
Regeneron’s findings came from a study of 275 people who were treated after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. The detailed data from the trials has not yet been made public or peer-reviewed.
After Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday evening, the president’s team confirmed he began a course of remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences shown to help moderately ill COVID-19 patients recover more quickly from the disease by making it hard for the virus to replicate. In May, the drug received emergency use authorization from the FDA for those who are hospitalized with COVID-19.
Side effects from remdesivir can include nausea, vomiting, chills and elevated liver enzymes, which could potentially cause liver damage.
On Sunday, Conley said the president was being treated with the steroid dexamethasone after Trump’s blood oxygen level dropped twice, raising concerns about the president’s condition as the drug is typically reserved for seriously ill patients.
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The drug was found to benefit critically ill COVID-19 patients in trials in the United Kingdom. It’s used to head off an immune system overreaction to the virus that can kill severely ill patients.
The inexpensive steroid is commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis and breathing disorders.
Dexamethasone can cause several potential side effects, including mental health problems such as aggression, agitation, anxiety, irritability and depression.
“Dexamethasone is known to have mental health side effects,” Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and associate professor at Brown University, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sunday.
“It can cause psychosis. It can cause delirium. It can cause mania,” Ranney said. “I would never want to say the president is experiencing steroid-induced psychosis, but it is certainly concerning to see some of his actions today in the wake of this potentially deadly diagnosis and infectious disease.”
The president said he will be discharged from Walter Reed on Monday evening following three days of treatment at the facility.
White House officials and Trump’s medical team have acknowledged the president is not out of the woods yet and that COVID-19 patients can go through peaks and valleys with their symptoms.
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