US President Donald Trump has declared his diagnosis with COVID-19 “a blessing from God” and promised to make the as-yet-unavailable treatments he received “free” to all Americans.
In a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday, Trump said “they gave me Regeneron … and other things, too, but I think this was the key, but they gave me Regeneron. And it was like, unbelievable. I felt good.”
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT! pic.twitter.com/uhLIcknAjT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
In the video recorded outside the White House Oval Office, Trump went on to describe Regeneron’s COVID-19 treatment, called “REGN-COV2”, and other treatments as “therapeutic. But to me it wasn’t therapeutic, it just made me better. Okay, I call that a cure.”
“I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise,” he continued. “I caught it. I heard about this drug. I said, ‘Let me take it.’ It was my suggestion. I said, ‘Let me take it.’
“I want to get for you what I got. And I’m gonna make it free,” he added, before blaming China for the virus and explaining that he would have the US military distribute the drugs.
Asked about President Trump saying getting COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said: “I’m going to think before I speak. I think it’s a tragedy the president deals with COVID like it is something not to be worried about when already 210,000 people have died.”
The experimental antibody drug given to President Donald Trump has been called one of the most promising approaches to preventing serious illness from a COVID-19 infection.
Its maker, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, said the company agreed to supply a single dose, given through an IV, for Trump at the request of his physician under “compassionate use” provisions, when an experimental medicine is provided on a case-by-case emergency basis, while studies of it continue.
The new drug is in late-stage testing and its safety and effectiveness are not yet known. No treatment has yet proved able to prevent serious illness after a coronavirus infection.
Trump was given the experimental drug at the White House last Friday before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The drug is given as a one-time treatment through an IV. In multiple studies, Regeneron is testing it both for preventing infection and in people already infected, like Trump, to try to prevent serious illness or death.
Earlier this week, Regeneron said partial results from about 275 COVID-19 patients who were not sick enough to need hospitalisation suggested it might be cutting how long symptoms last and helping reduce the amount of virus patients harbour.
However, the study has not been completed, and the results were only announced in a company news release and have not been published or reviewed by other scientists.
Trump’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, said that the president had also been given the antiviral drug remdesivir at the military hospital. The Gilead Sciences drug has been shown to help some COVID-19 patients recover faster.
Earlier, Conley said Trump also was taking zinc, vitamin D, an antacid called famotidine, melatonin and aspirin. None of those has been proven to be effective against COVID-19.