‘Potent’ experimental drug given to Trump already being used in UK

A "very potent" experimental coronavirus drug being given to Donald Trump is already being used in a handful of UK hospitals, according to an Oxford University professor.

The US president was given the artificial antibody treatment at the White House on Friday after being diagnosed with Covid-19, before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre.

The drug began being used in "about three hospitals in the north" last weekend as part of Oxford University's national Recovery trial, said Professor Peter Horby.

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Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; President Donald Trump leaves the stage after debating Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden in the first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden debates President Donald Trump in the first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; The streets just outside of the Cleveland debate site were quiet during the debate as only small groups of protesters numbering in the few dozens outside of where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met during the first 2020 Presidential Debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden finish the first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; President Donald Trump leaves the stage after debating Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden in the first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden debates President Donald Trump in the first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday moderates the debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden in their first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; President Donald Trump debates Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden in the first Presidential debate in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; (Editors note: Vulgar language on sign) Small groups of protesters only numbering in a few dozen outside of where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met during the first 2020 Presidential Debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
President Donald Trump walks off Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews Wednesday, September 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump returned from his first Presidential debate with Former Vice President Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Ken Cedeno/Pool/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; Final preparations are made before the first Presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; RefuseFascism.org rally gathering near the debate site where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would meet during the first 2020 Presidential Debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland. Protesters hold Black Lives Matter signs. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Final preparations take place before the first Presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden. Xxx 09292020 Presdebateprep Cle 0008 Jpg A Eln Usa Oh (Photo by Meg Vogel/USA Today Network/Sipa USA)
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; Final preparations take place before the first Presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel-USA TODAY/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; National Guard block intersections as security measures are put in place before President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden meet in the first 2020 Presidential Debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
United States President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump wave to supporters as they walk across the South Lawn to Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. Trump is traveling to participate in the First Presidential Debate against former Vice President Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Ken Cedeno/Pool/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; Final preparations take place before the first Presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Meg Vogel-USA TODAY/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; Democrats hold a drive-up event at John Hay High School near where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would meet during the first 2020 Presidential Debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, OH, USA; RefuseFascism.org rally protesters hold baby Trump balloons during a gathering near the debate site where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would meet during the first 2020 Presidential Debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
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Prof Horby, who specialises in emerging infectious diseases at Oxford University and is co-chief investigator of the Recovery trial, added that the drug is due to be rolled out to "another 30 to 40 hospitals" in the UK next week.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday morning, Prof Horby described the drug as "very promising" and "very potent".

He said: "The class of drugs, these artificial antibodies, have been around for quite a while now, and they've been extensively used in inflammatory conditions and cancers, and they're pretty safe and well understood, and so the technology is something that I think we have confidence in.

"This particular drug has probably been given to, I would think now, four or five hundred patients, mild or severe patients in different trials, and so far there's been no worrying safety signals.

Coronavirus - Tue Jun 16, 2020
Professor Peter Horby (PA)

"In the laboratory, in cell cultures it has a very strong effect against the virus, and there have been studies in artificial animals where it also shows benefits. So probably of the drugs that are available, it's one of the most promising."

Prof Horby said a single dose of the treatment provides "prolonged protection" for "a month to six weeks", making it "quite attractive for the older population".

The antibody cocktail works by binding to a protein on the surface of the virus, stopping it from attaching to cells and replicating, while allowing the immune system to attack the virus.

Mr Trump has been given the drug alongside Remdesivir, an antiviral treatment which has been shown to help some coronavirus patients recover faster.

His wife Melania and one of Mr Trump's closest aides also tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

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