Washington: US President Donald Trump credited Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc.'s experimental monoclonal antibody treatment with his apparent recovery from the coronavirus, and announced Wednesday his intention to authorise emergency use of the therapeutic and provide it free to Americans.
"I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president, because I feel great," Trump said in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday evening. "To me it wasn't therapeutic, it just made me better, O.K.?" he said. "I call that a cure."
Trump added that he believed his brush with the virus was "a blessing from God" because it gave him first-hand experience with the Regeneron monoclonal antibodies, which he described as "key" to his recovery.
Trump took the experimental treatment alongside remdesivir, the Gilead Sciences antiviral therapy, as well as the steroid dexamethasone. But the president said he specifically asked doctors to give him the Regeneron treatment.
Regeneron shares jumped 2.7 per cent in late trading on the president's remarks. Eli Lilly & Co., which makes a competing antibody treatment also mentioned by Trump, jumped 1.7 per cent.
Trump asserted once again that he believed the US would have a vaccine "very, very shortly" but said for the first time that it was not likely to come until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. The president blamed "politics" after the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday released new standards that could delay authorisation of a coronavirus vaccine until after the election.
Trump also claimed in the video, shot on the South Lawn of the White House, that he did not believe he needed to be hospitalised over the weekend at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but that doctors insisted because of his office.
"I walked in, I didn't feel good," Trump said. "A short 24 hours later, I was feeling great I wanted to get out of the hospital. And that's what I want for everybody.
Trump's doctors said Wednesday they were able to detect antibodies in his bloodstream in a test taken Monday. Regeneron said in an email that its drug is probably responsible for the antibodies, rather than Trump producing them on his own.
The company said Wednesday night that it had made a formal request to the FDA for an emergency use authorisation. The company added that if the authorisation were approved, it had doses available for about 50,000 patients at no cost.
Yet it's impossible to know whether he's feeling better because of that drug, Trump's course of remdesivir or the dexamethasone. It's also unclear whether he's "cured," since people with the virus sometimes take a turn for the worse a week or more after first showing symptoms.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden appeared to react with skepticism to Trump's decision to proclaim the antibody treatment a "cure," telling a reporter who asked about the declaration, "I hope you stay healthy."
Biden also criticised Trump for calling his brush with coronavirus a blessing.
"I think it's a tragedy the president deals with COVID like it is something not to be worried about when already 210,000 people have died," the former vice president told reporters in Wilmington. "I think it's a tragedy."