Can UK patients get hold of the drugs given to Donald Trump?
US President Donald Trump has described getting Covid-19 as “a blessing from God” and said all Americans should have access to the drugs he was given, including an experimental therapy.
– What is this experimental drug?
Donald Trump was given the antibody treatment REGN-COV2 on compassionate grounds by its US manufacturer Regeneron.
The drug, which has not yet been approved for the treatment of Covid-19, is subject to clinical trials around the world.
REGN-COV2 is made up of two monoclonal antibodies (REGN10933 and REGN10987), which are man-made and act like human antibodies in the immune system.
The cocktail of drugs targets two components in the spike protein of the Covid-19 virus, with the aim of interrupting its ability to infect cells.
– Do I have any hope of getting this drug if I fall ill?
REGN-COV2 is currently being trialled globally, including in UK hospitals, where at least 2,000 patients will receive it.
The Recovery study, co-ordinated by the University of Oxford, will assess the impact of giving patients the drug alongside usual standard care, to see if it lessens the severity of Covid-19 and can reduce deaths.
Experts are hopeful the drug will work and can be pushed through regulatory channels quickly for widespread use.
In the US, Donald Trump has said he plans to seek emergency use authorisation from federal agencies for the medicine’s use.
– What else did Donald Trump receive?
Thanks to the UK-led Recovery trial, which includes 176 UK hospital sites, a cheap steroid called dexamethasone was found in June to save the lives of people with severe Covid infection.
The widely available drug, which is now being used globally, was found to cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators.
For those needing some form of oxygen treatment but not a ventilator, it cut deaths by a fifth.
The drug works like a regular steroid by calming the immune system, but can have side-effects such as irritability and difficulty sleeping.
Patients in UK hospitals now have access to dexamethasone if their doctors feel they would benefit from it.
– I’ve heard about another drug given to Donald Trump called remdesivir?
Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that was first developed as a treatment for Ebola, and works by disrupting the virus’ ability to replicate.
Clinical trials have shown the drug cuts the duration of symptoms from 15 days to 11, but there is no data yet on survival.
The European Commission has sealed a deal with pharmaceutical company Gilead to buy 500,000 treatment courses of remdesivir, to ensure it can be stockpiled.
This means countries including the UK can continue to purchase the drug for widespread use.