Healthcare experts disputed the efficacy of Regeneron's experimental Covid-19 drug saying it was too early to claim it would cure the highly infectious disease. The antibody medication REGN-COV2, received much praise from President Donald Trump who was given the drug along with other medicines a part of his coronavirus treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center.
In a video address on Wednesday, Trump called REGN-COV2 a Covid-19 "cure" that was "blessing from God." Shortly after, doctors reported a surge in inquiries for the drug and a number of patients said they were willing to participate in the drug's trials.
However, healthcare experts were cautious to label the cocktail of monoclonal antibodies as a cure. Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., said that since Trump was given several drugs, including steroid dexamethasone and antiviral Remdesivir, it was not easy to pinpoint that REGN-COV2 solely helped him with the coronavirus.
"It [REGN-COV2] is a potentially useful drug. But he [Trump] was on so many different drugs that you don't know which one actually made the difference. Another thing is most people recover from Covid-19 naturally, even people in his age bracket — often within about a week. So it could be that he just naturally got better in a week," Professor Hunter told MailOnline.
Dr Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in Michigan and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicine, echoed similar sentiments in a video he posted on Twitter. He noted that dexamethasone had similar effects as Trump described — "I feel better than I did 20 years ago."
"We don't know if it [REGN-COV2] works. We don't know about patient outcomes because it hasn't been studied enough. Frankly, he is an anecdote. ... but he is also getting dexamethasone," Davidson said. "Dexamethasone is a potent steroid. It has been around for 62 years in this country. ... let me tell you, it makes you feel like a million bucks, it makes you feel like on top of the world. ... We have no idea how he [Trump] is feeling at this moment. It is from the Regeneron cocktail or dexamethasone."
REGN-COV2 Under Clinical Trial
The Regeneron drug was in early trials across the world but was not studied on severely ill patients. Primary data found that the monoclonal cocktail reduced the viral load within a week. It was also observed that the drug slashed recovery time in half of patients who had mild symptoms of coronavirus.
The pharmaceutical company applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, which is yet to give its approval. Trump received REGN-COV2 dose under a "compassionate use" exemption.
President Trump Acquainted With Regeneron CEO
On Monday, CNN reported that Trump and Regeneron CEO Dr Leonard Schleifer and President Trump knew each other and the latter was a member at Trump's golf club in Westchester, New York. As a part of Trump's Operation Warp Speed, Regeneron received $450 million in government funding in July. Operation Warp Speed was initiated to speed up the development of Covid-19 and related treatments.