COVID-19 drugs see Trump return home after just three days

donald trump

US President Donald Trump has returned to the White House after three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center receiving treatment for COVID-19.

In a remarkable turnaround, Trump tweeted “feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” The news was greeted positively by investors who sent the Dow Jones Index up about 1.7%, recovering the losses it received when Trump announced he had COVID-19.

Sean Conley, the US President’s personal physician, said Trump’s fever had abated and his oxygen levels had returned to normal.

“Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations and, most importantly, his clinical status support the president’s safe return home, where he’ll be surrounded by world class medical care, 24/7,” Conley said.

The drugs that Trump had to treat COVID-19

Trump is on a five-day course of intravenous injections of remdesivir, an antiviral drug produced by the US biotech company Gilead Sciences. It works by blocking an enzyme that some viruses need to replicate. Remdesivir was developed to treat the Ebola virus but clinical trials have shown some effectiveness in COVID-19 patients who are moderately ill, speeding up their recovery.

The US Food and Drug Administration authorised the emergency use of remdesivir for COVID-19 in May for patients with severe symptoms who need extra oxygen or mechanical ventilation to help them breathe. In August, the FDA extended the emergency use authorisation to anyone in hospital with COVID-19, however severe their condition.

Trump on Friday received an 8g dose of an experimental antibody therapy from Regeneron, another US biotech company. This cocktail, called REGN-CoV-2, contains two antibodies that attach themselves to different sites on the “spike protein” that the virus uses to enter and infect human cells.

Several hundred patients with relatively mild cases of COVID-19 have received REGN-CoV-2 in phase 2 trials that have shown it does reduce the amount of virus in the body. The studies to date have been too small to know whether the drug improves patient outcomes such as reducing the duration of hospital stay, reducing the need for mechanical ventilation, or improving survival.

On Saturday, Trump was given the steroid drug dexamethasone after the oxygen level in his blood dipped. In June, a UK trial found that taking dexamethasone for 10 days reduced deaths by a third among patients requiring ventilation in hospital. Last month, the World Health Organization said doctors should treat severely ill coronavirus patients with dexamethasone or hydrocortisone, a similar anti-inflammatory steroid. Both steroid drugs are widely available.

Steroids reduce an excessive immune response to COVID-19 that is causing serious damage to the lungs and other organs throughout the body.

Trump also has been taking zinc and vitamin D, two typical immune-boosting supplements.

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