Eyewitness News talks to infectious diseases expert about Trump’s experimental antibody treatment

Coronavirus Watch

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Dr. Shawn Conley, President Trump’s physician, says the President was given the steroid dexamethasone, after his blood oxygen level suddenly dropped twice. But, he has continued to improve since then. Trump has also been treated with an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Noah Alatza, Eyewitness News:
Joining us tonight is Patty Olinger, the Executive Director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, and she’s an expert on infectious diseases. Patty, thanks for joining us.

Patty Olinger, Executive Director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council:
Thank you for having me.

Noah:
I guess the first question is, could you explain this antibody experimental treatment that the President got? And, I mean, how does it work?

Patty:
It actually mimics our own body from what I’ve read, meaning that when we get exposed to a virus or bacteria, our immune system creates antibodies. And, from what I’ve read and what I’ve watched on the internet, is that what this cocktail has is synthetic antibodies. So, what it’s going to do is, it’s going to mimic the protection that our own antibodies would have, as well as protect if when we are infected against the Coronavirus.

Noah:
Is this a common treatment for COVID-19 patients?

Patty:
I think that’s an interesting question, because what’s common right now, because, um, you know, I want to clarify one thing, I’m not a physician. And so, you know, this is a novel virus. And so, what they’re looking for, is something that works. And that’s why we’re seeing all of, you know, so much research being done right now, in universities and pharmaceutical companies to try and find one, that magic treatment, or magic treatments, as well as vaccines.

Noah:
And, does this treatment have any negative side effects on patients?

Patty:
Not that I’ve heard. Um, you know, when we looked at it, I think that this is an important aspect, you know. President Trump’s physicians are going to be looking for the best option that they can, and that’s why they went for this compassionate use for this particular, I’m sure, is they looked at what all the options were, and they they proactively went after, and that’s what my understanding of this cocktail and this antibody treatment is that it’s a proactive for those who are either, you know, just mildly, just in the beginning stages of their infection, or I think that also in clinical trials, they’re hoping that it may be also a preventative measure as well.

Noah:
The President announced his positive diagnosis on Thursday, and if he’s already feeling better today, I guess the question is, is that a sign that he’s out of the woods?

Patty:
Well, what we’re finding it in fact, a very good friend of mine, his mother-in-law, has gone through a couple, you know, she was feeling better, and then she started feeling worse again. And, so they’re going to be monitoring him very closely, to make sure that he continues on this path of feeling better.

Noah:
President Trump, obviously 74 years old. I mean, it puts him at a greater risk of complications. The question is, I guess, how can older Americans reduce their risk of getting sick?

Patty:
Ah, you know, what we’ve been listening to, and there’s a couple things, well, lots of things. One, wear your mask when you go out in public. Wear a mask. Pay very close attention to your social distancing, and hand sanitization. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. When you’re going to be removing your mask, wash them, or use alcohol or hand sanitizer before you remove your mask. And then, you know, don’t touch your eyes, your nose and your mouth. And those are the things that we can, as individuals, really pay attention, if we have older members of our family that we’re going to be visiting. Think about that as well. Where have you been? Is there a possibility you may have been infected, and, and you know, that you could infect an older family member or friend, and, you know, be very respectful from that standpoint. Because this is, as you indicated, for those who are, you know, over a certain age and elderly and they have what they call comorbidities, those are the individuals most vulnerable at this point in time.

Noah:
All right, some great insight and information, Patti. Thank you so much for your time.

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(This story was originally published on October 5, 2020)

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