TAMPA (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area hospital is at the forefront of testing a promising experimental coronavirus treatment given to President Trump following his positive test.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital is running three clinical trials for the antibody cocktail developed by the bio-tech company Regeneron.
Hospitalized patients, outpatients with mild symptoms and people exposed to someone with the virus are all testing the effectiveness of the therapy.
Dr. Manuel Gordillo is the Medical Director of SMH Infection Prevention and Control. He told 8 On Your Side the goal of giving this antiviral treatment to President Trump is to reduce the amount of virus in him early on in hopes of preventing more serious complications.
“How crucial are the next 24 hours for the President of the United States?” 8 On Your Side asked Dr. Gordillo.
“I think from here every day is going to be crucial,” Dr. Gordillo said. “We just need to pay close attention. At his age, complications can happen.”
At 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds, President Trump is considered mildly obese. According to the CDC, that triples his risk of complications.
At 74 years old, the president is in an age group that’s 5-times more likely to become severely ill.
In a memo, the White House physician revealed President Trump on Friday received a single 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail.
“So I’m very familiar with this antibody because we are using it a Sarasota Memorial,” Dr. Gordillo said. “We are one of the first that is doing the trials.”
Dr. Manuel Gordillo explained to 8 On Your Side how this therapy fights the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Just for sake of clarity it would be like arrows that attack the spike protein of the coronavirus,” he said.
Dr. Gordillo said one of the big unanswered questions remains when did the Commander-in-Chief contract coronavirus.
“So it could be the test became positive (Thursday) night,” he said, “but the virus had been incubating for a few days and wasn’t at a detectable level previously.”
Even though his symptoms are said to be mild so far, Dr. Gordillo said the president’s medical team made the right call moving him to Walter Reed Hospital.
“Makes a lot more sense that he would be monitored more closely at a hospital for somebody of his stature,” Dr. Gordillo said.
Dr. Gordillo said the incubation period can be up to two weeks. For that reason, he said those who have had close contact with President Trump and tested negative, such as family members, advisor or former Vice President Joe Biden who he debated Tuesday in Cleveland, will need to be tested again.
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