Hydroxychloroquine Is Conspicuously Absent from Trump’s COVID-19 Treatment Regimen
President Donald Trump has been touting chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine since March as effective treatments for COVID-19. He even took hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic measure for two weeks in May.
Last week, when the president was hospitalized for a COVID-19 infection, his physicians listed the medications with which he is being treated. Hydroxychloroquine is notable by its absence.
Instead, the president has been aggressively treated with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ polyclonal antibodies. This combination of two monoclonal antibodies aims to block the coronarvirus from infecting cells, providing extra time for patients’ immune systems to ramp up their own natural defenses against the virus. While the treatment is still in clinical trials, preliminary reports suggest that it does substantially help to alleviate COVID-19 symptoms.
The president’s team of physicians subsequently started him on a five-day course of remdesivir infusions that aim to inhibit the virus’ ability to replicate. Clinical trials suggest that the drug offers moderate benefits by shortening the recovery time for people with COVID-19 from an average of 15 days to about 11 days. That said, in one study “remdesivir did not appear to affect rates of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 viral RNA load decline and mortality when compared with placebo.” In other words, the drug did not hasten the elimination of the virus nor have much effect on the death rates of COVID-19 patients.
Now the president is being treated with the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone. Some preliminary research finds that this drug can modestly reduce the risk of mortality for COVID-19 patients who are on ventilators or receiving supplementary oxygen. It had no apparent effect on the risk of death for patients who were not receiving respiratory support. (The president has reportedly been given supplementary oxygen.)
In addition to the these cutting-edge treatments, the president is also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, and a daily aspirin.
Given the role that zinc plays in the immune system, some researchers have suggested that the nutritional supplement might help reduce the health consequences for COVID-19 patients, especially among that portion of the population experiencing zinc deficiency. A very preliminary observational study reported in August found that zinc therapy had minimal effect on the survival of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. But another small study, reported in Sep
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