Source: Brian C. Joondeph, M.D.
Election season is in full swing, with October surprises popping up like a jack-in-the-box at any moment. Within just over a week, we had the passing of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg followed promptly by Judge Amy Coney Barrett nominated to take her place. Then there was the debate between President Trump and both Joe Biden and Chris Wallace.
An even bigger surprise started brewing Thursday when it was announced that presidential adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID and that the president and first lady were being tested. Friday morning, America awoke to news of Mr. and Mrs. Trump both testing positive for the China virus.
Most serious human beings expressed well wishes and prayers, but a number of the “tolerant and compassionate” leftist politicians, entertainers, and media were gloating and wishing a painful death for the president. Vice President Pence tested negative.
As the day wore on, so did the surprises. President Trump was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center for “the next few days,” not because he was sick, but as a “precautionary” measure. According to CNN, “[h]e walked on his own, without assistance, displayed no outward signs of illness.”
YouTube screen grab.
Trump’s medical team, earlier in the day, began treatment — specifically, “an experimental monoclonal antibody cocktail” produced by pharmaceutical company Regeneron. He is also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, and aspirin. The latter medications are thought to mitigate the effects of the virus but are hardly considered cures. Famotidine is a fancy name for Pepcid, an over-the-counter medication for gastric reflux and heartburn.
Of greater interest is Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, considered experimental and still under investigation but allowed for the president based on compassionate use. Trump’s actual symptoms are unknown but obviously not severe if he could walk unassisted from the White House to Marine One. There was no mention of hydroxychloroquine, a drug Trump had taken previously but that potentially would not mix well with the antibody cocktail.
The Regeneron cocktail, rumored to be called the Covfefe Double Shot, is a “novel two-antibody cocktail, REGN-COV2, with potential to diminish risk of viral escape by effectively binding to the virus’s critical spike protein in two separate, non-overlapping locations.”
For infectious diseases, Regeneron typically pursues a “cocktail” approach of two or more antibodies against a pathogen combined in a single medicine. The different antibodies working in slightly different ways have a higher chance of effectively blunting the virus should it mutate (change in form or nature) over time.
Both antibodies bind to the spike protein of the Wuhan virus, rendering it inactive, much like two police officers working in tandem to apprehend a violent offender. Fortunately, “Virus Lives Matter” hasn’t begun protesting the heavy-handed medical enforcement techniques of antibodies.
So why is President Trump in the hospital? Several reasons. He is infected and potentially contagious. He is not living in a small house with just his wife, but instead is in the command center of the U.S. government, the White House, with hundreds of employees potentially exposed to the president and first lady.
What better place to quarantine for a few days than in a hospital, already prepared for caring for a potentially infectious patient?
The China virus is funny in that it can cause those infected to crash quickly, meaning going from breathing well and talking to gasping for breath and needing respiratory assistance in a matter of hours. Why leave Trump at the White House, risking him deteriorating rapidly, then having to move him to the hospital? Continuity of government is paramount regardless of who the president is, what party he belongs to, and whether he tweets too much.
Last is the treatment itself. Monoclonal antibodies have potential side-effects including fever, chills, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and low or high blood pressure. While the White House has emergency medical capability, why take the chance of an adverse reaction in the White House rather than a hospital?
How common is hospitalization for someone Trump’s age with the Wuhan flu? Trump’s age group has a rate of hospitalization of 12 per 100,000, compared to 16 per 100,000 for someone Joe Biden’s age. For both, the odds are relatively low.
Looking at it another way, compared to a college-aged kid, Trump has a fivefold higher rate of hospitalization and a 90-fold higher risk of death. For his campaign opponent, those rates are eight times and 220 times, respectively. Both presidential candidates are in the later years of their lives, and both are more susceptible to disease and death. Hopefully, that’s not a rationale for AOC running for president in 2024. Neither Trump nor Biden is invincible and should take advantage of appropriate medical safeguards.
Applying the same distinction between those dying from or with COVID, one could similarly argue that Trump is being hospitalized with, rather than due to, COVID. So the above numbers are not directly applicable to Trump since, as far as we know, he is being hospitalized out of precaution, not because he is sufficiently sick.
Hopefully this antibody cocktail works as it has in the studies, where “those who got Regeneron’s experimental therapy had lower virus levels in the bloodstream seven days later compared with patients who received a placebo.” While there are no guarantees, the odds favor a full recovery for the president.
Send thoughts and prayers to the president and don’t listen to the hair-on-fire media hardly able to contain themselves with ideas of Trump dropping out of the race. Be discerning when listening to “breaking news,” as it may be blown out of proportion, as is most news these days. President Trump has good reasons to spend the next few days in a hospital, getting top-notch medical care in his temporary but secure castle.