Donald Trump coronavirus: President taking antibody cocktail to be rolled out in 40 UK hospitals

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Phoebe Southworth
·3 min read
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Mr Trump has been taken to hospital as a precaution
Mr Trump has been taken to hospital as a precaution

Donald Trump is taking an antibody cocktail set to be rolled out to coronavirus patients in 40 hospitals in the UK next week.

The US President, who has tested positive for Covid-19 along with the First Lady, was taken to Walter Reed military hospital in Maryland late on Friday as a precaution after experiencing mild symptoms, including fatigue.

Mr Trump is being given the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, as well as an antibody treatment which is part of pioneering trials in the UK and has shown promising results.

The cocktail, called REGN-COV2, is made by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron, which previously developed a similar antibody drug against Ebola.

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases at Oxford University and co-chief investigator of the RECOVERY trial, which is now testing the cocktail, said it going to be made available to dozens of UK hospitals.

"We have it in the RECOVERY trial in the UK - we started that over last weekend. It's currently available in about three hospitals in the North. We'll be rolling it out next week to another 30 or 40 hospitals," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It's antiviral so will work in patients in which the virus is still replicating, but could be used at any stage of the disease and for any age group.

"It's an artificial antibody and a cocktail of two antibodies. It's designed so it binds strongly to a protein on the surface of the virus. It helps prevent the virus from attaching to the cells, entering the cells and replicating. It also helps our own immune system to attack and kill the virus.

"The class of drugs, these artificial antibodies, have been around for quite a while now and are extensively used in inflammatory conditions and cancers. They're pretty safe and well understood. This particular drug has probably been given to 400 or 500 mild or severe patients in different trials and so far there's be no worrying safety signals.

"It's very promising, it's very potent. In the laboratory in cell cultures it has a very strong effect against the virus and there have been some studies of artificially infected animals in which it showed benefit. Of the drugs available, it's one of the most promising."

Professor Horby said the response to vaccines can be poorer as you get older, but this class of drugs have a long life so one treatment can provide protection for  a month or six weeks - making them "attractive for the older population".

Mr Trump leaving the White House to travel to hospital - Drew Angerer /Getty Images North America 
Mr Trump leaving the White House to travel to hospital - Drew Angerer /Getty Images North America

Remdesivir, which Mr Trump is taking alongside the antibody cocktail, was the first drug approved to treat Covid-19 in the UK.

The antiviral was developed  by biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to tackle Ebola and is administered intravenously. It works by disrupting the virus's replication process.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, described it as “probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis begun”. 

Mr Trump is also said to be taking Vitamin D, Zinc and Melatonin, which have been found to potentially reduce the severity of Covid-19 symptoms.

He is also taking aspirin, which can shorten the length of hospital duration and reduce the incidence of cardiovascular complications.