MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The experimental drug given to President Trump to treat his COVID-19 infection is the very same drug being used in a clinical trial right here in Memphis.
Dr. Scott Strome, Executive Dean of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, is very familiar with the antibody cocktail from biotech firm Regeneron.
“It’s the drug I would have given him were I caring for him,” he told WMC Action News 5. “I think it’s the right drug.”
UTHSC has partnered with Regional One to test the drug’s effectiveness on patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms. Early data, says Dr. Strome, looks promising.
“So instead of giving you a vaccine which would induce antibodies, it just gives you the antibodies against the virus. It neutralizes viral activity and can actually reduce the viral load," Dr. Strome said. "We’re really delighted we could bring this in collaboration with Regional One to our area. Not just the President can get these drugs. They’re available to Memphians as well.”
Regeneron announced this week the drug improved symptoms in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with no serious side effects. Researchers are also looking at whether the treatment can keep people from contracting the virus.
President Trump is recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center. The White House doctor says he’s suffering from fatigue and has a fever. The President received a single 8 gram dose of the antibody cocktail, an infusion his doctor says “he completed without incident.”
Regeneron confirmed it released the drug under the “Compassionate Use Request,” where the FDA permits usage of the drug for patients not in clinical trials.
Until it’s available to the public or a vaccine is developed, Dr. Strome’s best advice to stay healthy and avoid the virus is simple.
“Masks are our best prevention against this disease,” he said. “Period. End of story. No question. I don’t know how to make it any clearer than that.”
The current Regeneron clinical trial in Memphis includes patients with mild symptoms. Dr. Strome says a second trial is opening up for patients who are hospitalized with more severe forms of the disease.