Despite Pres. Trump's claims, COVID antibody drugs are still in clinical trials and have not been proven to be effective for COVID-19 patients

 Newswise
9-Oct-2020 2:15 PM EDT, by Newswise

Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise

Truthfulness: Mostly False

Claim:

President Donald Trump claimed in shared video on Twitter that “hundreds of thousands of doses” of the Regeneron drug were nearly ready, and that Americans could “get ’em and you’re going to get ’em free.” “I call that a cure,” he added.

Claim Publisher and Date: President Donald Trump on 2020-10-07

After receiving therapy for his COVID-19 diagnosis with the experimental cocktail drug made by Regeneron, President Donald Trump claimed in shared video on Twitter that “hundreds of thousands of doses” of the Regeneron drug were nearly ready, and that Americans could “get ’em and you’re going to get ’em free.” “I call that a cure,” he added.

The drug Pres. Trump is referring to is REN-COV2, an experimental “monoclonal antibody cocktail.” But the cocktail is still considered experimental because clinical trials are ongoing and it hasn’t been approved for market by the FDA. 

As reported by Jessica McDonald at Factcheck.org...

Calling investigational COVID-19 antibody drugs “cures” in a video posted to Twitter, President Donald Trump incorrectly said the therapies had been authorized and that “hundreds of thousands of doses” were nearly ready.

He also suggested he had personally benefited from an antibody cocktail made by the biotech company Regeneron. It was one of several drugs the president received since he tested positive for the coronavirus.

The president later undercut that message, claiming in a subsequent interview that he “would’ve done it fine with no drugs,” but iterated that the drugs had cured him in another video.

The drugs in question are monoclonal antibodies, which are synthetic proteins optimized to recognize the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, and in theory should help clear the virus from the body. While many experts view them as promising — and some early data support that enthusiasm — the products are still in clinical trials and have not been proven to be effective for COVID-19 patients, much less cure the disease.

As reported by Julia Belluz at Vox...

All we know about its effectiveness comes from a September 29 Regeneron press release, as Vox’s Umair Irfan reported, about a multi-phase, randomized, double-blind clinical trial involving only 275 people.

While the company did report promising results — the treatment cut the viral load of Covid-19patients who were not hospitalized, and it reduced the time it took to resolve symptoms — these are very early, unvetted findings. They say nothing of whether the drug cut the risk of death or “cured” people.

“The sample size is pitiful,” said David Nunan, a senior research fellow at the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, referring to the 106 participants in the trial who reported the main outcome of symptom alleviation in the interim results. “There’s going to be huge uncertainty, and any of the differences we see in [the treatment group compared to the placebo group] are unlikely to be statistically significant — meaning they could just be chance effects.”

Data from the trial hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed. And, again, the trial isn’t even finished.

It’s the same story for another antibody therapy from the drug company Eli Lilly, which Trump also mentioned in the video. No published data. Just a press release.

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