JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Since Friday, President Trump has been given a synthetic antibody treatment, the experimental drug Remdesivir, and a corticosteroid known as dexamethasone to tackle his COVID-19 infection.
The last one appears to be the most concerning, according to Dr. Alan Jones, assistant vice chancellor for clinical affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
“The data shows that the dexamethasone works for moderate to severe COVID-19, really, at the point at which you’re requiring a lot of oxygen, or you’re on a ventilator," Jones said. “Those are the patients that seem to benefit the most from it. So it’s not really clear at this point, if he was given it [in a] proactive format, or if he really did get to the point where he was on a fair amount of oxygen.”
The president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said over the weekend President Trump was administered supplemental oxygen Friday after his levels dropped below normal, but has not said if that was the only time.
Conley also admitted Sunday that he was trying to be upbeat instead of completely forthcoming with the public about the president’s true condition.
President Trump has received five doses of Remdesivir -- an experimental drug -- and that treatment is fairly standard for hospitalized patients, Jones said.
“That’s been shown to be helpful if patients get there early on in a treatment course, kind of similar to Tamiflu, which is what we do for the flu," said internal medicine specialist Dr. Justin Turner. “We find that COVID-19 causes an inflammatory response and it causes all these different cytokines and different things to be released. If you give it later on after your body has started to cascade, the cat’s kind of out of the bag.”
The synthetic antibody treatment, known as REGN-COV2 and manufactured by Regeneron, has also shown promise through initial research.
"We offer that here at UMC, but it’s in the context of a clinical trial,” Jones said. “My understanding is that President Trump received that through compassionate use, which is a process that is an approved process through the FDA. So you can’t just walk into the hospital and ask to get that type of a treatment; it does have to be approved through regulatory mechanisms.”
Both doctors believe the combination of drugs do not suggest a mild case of COVID-19, which was initially put out by the White House Friday.
Even the president’s trip to Walter Reed was a telling sign, Jones said.
“Mild cases typically don’t require any type of medical therapy or hospitalization. So, from that perspective, [it’s] probably at least a moderate case, "Jones added.
Turner pointed out that the medical information he provided to 3 On Your Side is rooted in science, not a political motive.
“The mission is to try and save lives and do what we signed up for as it relates to our Hippocratic oath, and that’s to do no harm,” Turner said. “We see with COVID-19, things can turn quickly, very, very, very fast. So the question with all of [these treatments] is, does the benefit outweigh the risk?”