There’s a new pre-election COVID miracle in town.
Trump calls it Regeneron, though that’s the name of the company, not the drug, and claims that it not only “cured” him of COVID, but it’ll “cure” you as well.
The President has shifted from hyping a vaccine to the drug he himself was treated with: a monoclonal antibody treatment designed to prevent the virus from infecting human cells.
The huckster-in-chief’s little-noticed shift from a rushed vaccine to a new elixir comes as hopes for a pre-election vaccine began to fade this week when the FDA announced criteria for evaluating a shot that would push any approval past the November election.
“I think we should have [a vaccine] before the election, but frankly the politics gets involved,” Trump lamented in a video this week.
By Friday morning, Trump was pumping it up to Rush Limbaugh: “We have a cure. More than just a therapeutic, we have a cure.”
Regeneron’s cutting-edge drug isn’t a vaccine, nor is it a cure. It’s a treatment, and one that remains unproven, though promising.
But that hasn’t stopped Trump from touting it, and making himself Exhibit A for the false proposition that it’s a cure.
Presidential son Eric Trump went so far on Wednesday in a Georgia talk radio interview to describe Regeneron’s drug as a vaccine, saying that “there’s never been vaccines created so quickly.”
“My father was just on one of them,” he added. “It knocked it out in 24 hours.”
The actual drug is an experimental treatment that, scientists say, holds high hopes treating COVID patients. Regeneron asked the FDA for emergency approval on Thursday, while Eli Lilly, which has a similar treatment, asked for the same emergency authorization on Wednesday.
The FDA has yet to verify data around the new drugs, and they have yet to undergo large-scale trials proving that they work safely.
Within a day of the FDA announcing that it would use criteria to evaluate a COVID vaccine that would push its approval until after the November elections, Trump and his advisers began to pressure the FDA to accelerate approval of the Regeneron treatment.
The Washington Post reported that both the President and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have been pressuring FDA head Stephen Hahn to approve the emergency use petitions from Regeneron and Eli Lilly.
Trump also told Limbaugh on Friday that “hundreds of thousands of vials [of Regeneron’s antibody treatment] are being sent to hospitals around the country.”
That appears to be a Trumpian version of an announcement that officials with Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s vaccine development program, made on a Friday morning press call.
On the call, Warp Speed official Paul Mango said that the government had bought “a couple of hundred thousand” doses of the drugs, and would have 1 million ready to go by the end of the year for distribution, should they prove effective.
It’s not entirely clear why Trump thinks the drug is so effective.
Some of the government’s top advisers have repudiated him, including Dr. Tony Fauci, who told MSNBC on Thursday that “when you only have one, you can’t make the determination that that’s a cure.”
“You have to do a clinical trial involving a large number of individuals compared either to a placebo or another intervention,” he said.