Written by Maggie Haberman and Katie Thomas
President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday that catching the coronavirus was “a blessing from God” and portrayed as a miracle cure the unproven therapeutic drug he was given after testing positive last week for the virus.
Trump said he planned to make the antibody cocktail being developed by the drugmaker Regeneron, which does not yet have government approval, free to anyone who needs it. He did not explain how he would do it.
The president’s statement, in a video released early Wednesday evening by the White House, was his latest effort to repair the political damage he has suffered after months of trying to minimize the effects of a pandemic that has killed more than 211,000 Americans.
In remarks he made while he was at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and then when he returned to the White House on Monday, Trump did his best to play down the virus’ effects, telling Americans, “Don’t be afraid of it,” and saying that he felt “better than 20 years ago.”
But in the video released Wednesday night Trump, whose skin appeared darkened by makeup and who appeared to struggle to get air at times, seemed to be saying that he had discovered, without evidence, a new drug that suddenly made him feel better and could do the same for everyone else with COVID-19.
“I call that a cure,” said Trump, adding that everyone should have access to the not-yet-approved drug for “free” and that he would make sure it was in every hospital as soon as possible. Regeneron has received more than $500 million from the federal government to develop and manufacture its experimental treatment.
“I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it,” Trump said, apparently referring to the fact that he had learned about the benefits of the drug as a result of becoming ill.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UCSF Health in San Francisco, said in his opinion there was “1 million percent” no chance that the Regeneron treatment could have cured Trump in 24 hours, as the president claimed.
Another explanation, he said, is that the president is experiencing the effects of the steroid dexamethasone, which he has been receiving since Saturday, which is known to reduce fever and can create feelings of well-being and euphoria in patients. “This is all in keeping with the dexamethasone speaking,” Chin-Hong said.
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