It may be the dying days of Trump’s presidency, but some are getting lifetime benefits.
Rudy Giuliani, currently convalescing in a Georgetown hospital bed from COVID-19, called into his native WABC radio station on Tuesday for an update on his treatment for the deadly virus.
Rest assured, the wheeler-and-dealer feels fine. Particularly, Giuliani said, after having received the same cocktail of drugs given to President Trump in October.
“[Trump]’s doctor sent me here, he talked me into it,” Giuliani said. “I didn’t really want to go to the hospital and he said, ‘don’t be stupid, we can get it over with in three days if we send you to the hospital.'”
It comes after President Trump himself in October got the same course that Giuliani says he received: remdesivir, dexmethasone, and, to top it off, the most promising of them all, Regeneron — a newly developed monoclonal antibody treatment that beefs up the body’s immune response to the virus.
“The minute I took the cocktail yesterday, I felt 100 percent better,” Giuliani said. “It works very quickly. Wow!”
How did Rudy manage to get these drugs?
After all, they’re in extremely short supply. Monoclonal antibodies, which medical science generally agrees are the best shot at an effective treatment for the disease, are expensive and rare. One Florida hospital reported that its phone lines have been “bombarded” by people wanting the drug.
What’s more, all of the doses in circulation currently belong to the U.S. government.
The government bought 300,000 doses at around $1,500 a pop earlier this year. Those are the only doses being distributed in the United States at the moment, and are available for free per the Department of Health and Human Services.
Okay. So did Rudy get one via normal allocation from HHS?
HHS, for its part, tersely says that its providing “weekly allocations” of the drug to the states, “proportionally based on confirmed COVID-19 cases in each state and territory over the previous seven days.”
But Giuliani, in his interview, seems to attribute his receipt of the lifesaving medicine not to D.C.’s public health authority but, rather, to the good graces of Trump’s doctor.
“I think if it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have been put in a hospital,” Giuliani said. “Because sometimes when you’re a celebrity, they’re worried if something happens to you they’re gonna examine it more carefully and do everything right.”
As Trump himself once said, when you’re a celebrity, they do treat you differently!
But this all raises an obvious question: is President Trump using the medical perks of his office to help out his friends?
Giuliani serves no position of public trust.
And, to be clear, it’s possible that he got it via normal allocation from the D.C. government. That doesn’t explain the presence of Trump’s personal doctor in all this, but still. Giuliani is an old man, and sick — a prime candidate to receive the treatment.
But even that doesn’t explain the odder story of Chris Christie, stricken with COVID-19 in October after the Rose Garden ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett.
Christie found himself in an ICU in Morristown, New Jersey. And according to Biocentury, a pharmaceuticals trade publication, his options were limited.
At the time monoclonal antibodies had not yet received emergency FDA approval. They were still in clinical trials, and, Biocentury wrote, the hospital offered Christie the choice to participate in one for Regeneron.
But, Christie refused.
Reportedly, that was because the trial included the possibility that Christie would be given a placebo, and the former New Jersey governor “was unwilling to accept the chance that he would receive a placebo.”
So, in addition to the much-sought-after remdesivir, Christie received a monoclonal antibody treatment developed by Eli Lilly. It’s not clear how Christie gained access to that drug, or why he thought that it was a sure thing as opposed to the Regeneron placebo.
And, as with Giuliani, it’s unclear if Christie’s buddy in a position of power intervened here.
But the question is intriguing: 286,000 deaths into the pandemic, is the President using the perks of his office to grant his friends medical help?