All about monoclonal antibody drugs — the experimental treatment that may have turned Trump’s COVID-19 around – About Your Online Magazine


Continuation of article content

“It is entirely possible that by the time you are giving, you are giving too late.”

Medical technicians work in a COVID-19 drive-through test facility on the Westchester campus of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, New York, September 17, 2020. Photo by Brendan McDermid / Reuters / Archive

The fact that Trump has something totally experimental raised eyebrows, but monoclonal antibodies are used throughout medicine to treat infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases and lymphomas.

“The short answer is: great promising therapy, but we need to see better data,” said Downar.

The downside? It is challenging and expensive to do. It is laborious, time-consuming and therapy with monoclonal antibodies can cost thousands of dollars per person treated.

Likewise, any antibody therapy has the potential to trigger an exaggerated or confusing immune or inflammatory response that, in rare cases, can cause damage to multiple organs, Downar said.

“If you are using it in situations where the person does not have an adequate immune response and the insult, the infection, is causing a lot of damage, then there is good logic to think that it can be effective,” he said.

It is difficult to say what helped Trump. Science is stronger for dexamethasone, a cheap and ubiquitous steroid.

“It’s impossible to know,” said Arnold, a professor and one of the principal investigators on a major convalescent plasma test that is taking place in Canada.

“The other part is that, as far as I can tell, Trump had quite mild symptoms, certainly not enough to qualify him to be hospitalized for an extended period of time or to need oxygen for an extended period of time. For many people, if they had these symptoms, they would probably not be hospitalized – they would be treated at the clinic and many of them would improve on their own, anyway. ”

“It is very difficult to know, for all these reasons, whether that treatment made a difference in this specific case.”

• The e-mail: skirkey@postmedia.com | Twitter:



Paula Fonseca