Here's Why Trump's Experimental COVID-19 Treatment Is Causing Such A Stir

In one of his updates, President Donald Trump's physician said Trump has been given an experimental drug cocktail with Regeneron, zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, as well as an aspirin, which the president takes every day. In case you're wondering why you've never heard of Regeneron before, it's because the treatment doesn't have FDA approval (via CNN). "Following PCR-confirmation of the President's diagnosis, as a precautionary measure he received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron's polyclonal antibody cocktail. He completed the infusion without incident..." the memo stated (via the Associated Press).

While there aren't any approved drugs for COVID-19, The New York Times says Regeneron seems to be one of the most promising, and initial results are showing the drug can be effective at cutting the levels of virus in the body and reducing the amount of time a coronavirus patient spends in a hospital — if it is given to a patient early enough. Regeneron's chief executive, Leonard S. Schleifer said Trump's doctors asked the company for permission to use the drug and that the request was cleared with the FDA. "All we can say is that they asked to be able to use it, and we were happy to oblige. When it's the president of the United States, of course, that gets — obviously — gets our attention,"  Schleifer, who is a member of Trump's golf club, said. 

George Washington University professor Jonathan Reiner told CNN: "The big news there is that he got an experimental drug. He got a drug not approved by the FDA." The president's use of an experimental cocktail could indicate how worried the White House is about his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Regeneron is in its very early stages

The drug is in its very early trials. Just a few days ago, infectious disease expert Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo told CNN that results from 275 patients out of 1,000 are promising, and she points out: "What I think is fascinating is that it shows that antibodies really matter and the antibody to the spike protein was really helpful, particularly when people made the antibodies themselves." She continued, "Whether it's antibody therapy or vaccine that target these proteins, it sounds like we are on the right track. I think that's really encouraging".

It is important to note that drug's early data have not been peer reviewed, and no one knows who was part of the study, and how many patients were hospitalized. The company's CEO told CNN: "We have already learned that hospitalized patients have even higher viral load, suggesting they're not attempting an adequate immune response, so we would hope we'd be able to see the same thing with those patients."

Throughout the pandemic, The New York Times pointed out that the president had promoted unproven or scientifically questionable treatments for COVID-19. As a result, the FDA approved then revoked its approval for the use of hydroxychloroquine. He also endorsed the use of convalescent plasma, and suggested that injecting a disinfectant like bleach could be a deterrent against the coronavirus, though he later said he was "joking."

There are calls for more transparency over Trump's medical condition

If you're feeling like you're in the dark about what's going on with the president's treatment, you're not alone. So far CNN says the White House hasn't made any move to brief leaders of Congress and the House and Senate intelligence committees on Trump's health, which is unusual because the group is usually told about intelligence and national security matters. Karen Tumulty, a Washington Post columnist, is one of the voices calling for more transparency. She tweeted: "For the sake of public confidence and even national security, it is crucial that public briefings on the president's condition come from medical personnel at Walter Reed, and not from White House officials."

Transparency aside, there are also those upset that the president is getting treatment that the masses do not have access to. "43,631 Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 today. Trump is just one of them. But Trump is the only one being flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. And Trump is the only one getting a Regeneron polyclonal antibody cocktail," tweeted one critic.