October 3 Trump Covid-19 news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Amy Woodyatt, Fernando Alfonso III, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 4, 2020
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4:31 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

Here's what we know about Regeneron's experimental antibody cocktail for Covid-19

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals corporate headquarters.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals corporate headquarters. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The White House confirmed doctors gave President Trump a single 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s experimental antibody therapy to treat Covid-19.

Regeneron, a New York-based biotech company, confirmed that it provided the drug in what’s commonly known as a “compassionate use” request from the President’s physicians.

The therapy is known as REGN-COV2; the company calls it a “cocktail” of two monoclonal antibodies.

Polyclonal antibodies are made using several different immune cells, while monoclonal antibodies are made using identical immune cells that are clones of a specific parent cell. 

To make its monoclonal antibody therapy, Regeneron scientists selected two antibodies that best neutralized a version of the novel coronavirus in the lab. They then cloned these antibodies and put it into a treatment. Regeneron is using two antibodies since they think it will work best as the virus mutates.

About Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody therapy trials: The company started testing the treatment in humans in June. Early trials showed it was safe. 

On Tuesday, the company announced results from the first 275 non-hospitalized patients in a late-stage trial that showed that the treatment was safe and seemed to reduce viral levels and improve symptoms in patients with Covid-19. The greatest improvements were seen in patients who hadn’t already mounted a detectable immune response to the novel coronavirus. The patients in the trial were younger than Trump; the average age was 44 years old. More than 40% of the patients were obese, like the President, and a total of 64% of the patients had one or more underlying risk factor for severe Covid-19.

The study results have not been peer-reviewed and only topline data was available from the company in a news release. 

Outside infectious disease experts said the early results looked “very promising,” but they would need to see results from a larger number of patients. 

What’s next: The company said it is continuing to study this therapy. There will be more data to come from this trial and from a trial involving hospitalized patients and one that is testing the antibody cocktail as prevention for people who have contact with someone in their household who has Covid-19.

Regeneron is in talks with regulators to see if the US Food and Drug Administration would consider an emergency authorization of the drug. 

There are at least 70 different antibody treatments for Covid-19 under investigation.

4:19 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

Here's what you need to know about the White House outbreak

The White House in Washington DC on October 2.
The White House in Washington DC on October 2. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

With President Donald Trump hospitalized for Covid-19, more cases are beginning to emerge in the White House and in his close circles.

Here's what you need to know:

Who has been infected: Trump, first lady Melania Trump, top aide Hope Hicks, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, and Republican Sens. Thom Tillis and Mike Lee have all tested positive.

The timeline: Hicks first felt symptoms on Wednesday night, and tested positive by Thursday morning. Trump was tested Thursday evening, and announced his results early Friday morning. Tillis, Lee, Stepien and Conway all announced their results on Friday. By Friday afternoon, Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed.

Trump's treatment: According to Trump's physician, the President has received the Regeneron antibody cocktail, an experimental drug that has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He has also received the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has emergency use authorization from the FDA, and has been shown to shorten recovery time for some coronavirus patients.

Trump is also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin.

Questions arising: As the White House scrambles to respond to the cluster, experts and doctors are also raising questions about the timeline of Trump's infection, and how we got here in the first place.

If he was being tested every day, how did nobody realize Trump had been exposed sooner? If officials knew of Hicks' diagnosis by Thursday morning, why wasn't Trump tested until that night? And what exactly is Trump's condition, given that the White House has released mixed messages -- saying at first that he was energetic and staying at the White House, then saying later that day he was fatigued and going to the hospital?

"These are critical questions that must be answered -- that should've been answered already," said CNN's Don Lemon on Friday night.

3:46 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

Even before Trump's diagnosis, his administration had longstanding credibility gap

Analysis from CNN's Maeve Reston

The lack of information about the severity of Trump's illness Friday night was complicated by the fact that the President and his allies have downplayed the dangers of Covid-19 ever since the virus reached the US.

Trump and members of his administration already faced a major credibility gap because of their extensive history of putting out false or misleading information about a variety of topics over the past four years, including the severity of the pandemic and the risks to public health.

The descriptions of the President's condition shifted throughout the day Friday -- and much of the early information about his well-being was reported by the press first and then confirmed by the White House, underscoring the lack of transparency from this administration.

On Friday morning, as the White House tried to project a business-as-usual demeanor, chief of staff Mark Meadows described Trump as energetic. But later in the day, Conley, the doctor intimately involved in Trump's care, wrote in a memo that he was "fatigued." And CNN learned from another source that the President had a fever for much of the day.

In the afternoon memo, Conley said Trump was given the Regeneron polyclonal antibody cocktail, an experimental drug that has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Trump's doctor also said he is taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin.

"As of this afternoon the President remains fatigued but in good spirits," his physician wrote. "He's being evaluated by a team of experts, and together we'll be making recommendations to the President and First Lady in regards to next best steps."

Within a few hours, Trump was headed to Walter Reed.

Read the full analysis:

3:10 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

Trump's trip to New Jersey was "the pinnacle of irresponsibility," immunology professor says

President Donald Trump arrives to attend a fundraiser at his golf club in Morristown, New Jersey on October 1.
President Donald Trump arrives to attend a fundraiser at his golf club in Morristown, New Jersey on October 1. Evan Vucci/AP

On Friday, the White House confirmed that people knew of Hope Hicks' positive diagnosis before President Donald Trump flew to New Jersey for his fundraiser on Thursday.

To make that kind of decision, "they would have to ignore literally decades of public health data that says when you have been around somebody who is infectious, you need to quarantine for a certain period," said Erin Bromage, professor of biology and immunology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

"We know with this pathogen, that it's 14 days. My family had been in quarantine, we tested just this past week because my son got sick at school. And out of an abundance of caution, we tested, we waited for our results, we got our results today. Everyone was negative and we could go out. We did the responsible thing.

"What the President did was not responsible, knowing he had close contact with a person who was diagnosed infected. That is just the pinnacle of irresponsibility."
2:30 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

If he gets tested every day, why didn't the White House realize Trump had been exposed sooner?

President Donald Trump wears a mask while walking to the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020.
President Donald Trump wears a mask while walking to the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Medical and national security experts raised questions today about the timeline of President Trump's infection, diagnosis and treatment, with some saying there are gaps that don't make sense.

Hope Hicks, the top Trump aide, started feeling symptoms Wednesday night and was confirmed positive by Thursday morning -- yet the President didn't announce his results until early Friday.

"I don't understand how, even if it were true, they had no indication of any kind of contagion around the President with Hope Hicks -- and it does not make sense," said CNN's Chris Cuomo. "They wait 24 hours to test the President? Why?"

Trump is supposed to be tested every day, according to White House protocol.

There are three possible explanations for this lapse in timing and testing, said Juliette Kayyem, CNN's National Security Analyst.

"The first is that that's a lie, which is very possible with this president, that they're not testing (every day)," she said.
"The second is that the timing of the testing was off, in terms of when it could pick up whether he was infected.
"And the third is, as we know, the Avid (coronavirus) test have a lot of false negatives. So he could have taken it at the right time and exhibiting symptoms, and the Avid test still showed a false negative."

This is why layered defense is so important, Kayyem said -- instead of relying solely on testing, the White House should have also implemented better social distancing, mask wearing, and other protective measures.

"You don't want a single point of failure -- you don't want a single test to bring down the entire White House and a national security establishment and the Senate," she said.
2:21 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

How risky is the unproven antibody therapy Trump took for Covid-19?

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer speaks at a meeting with President Donald Trump, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and pharmaceutical executives at the White House, on March 2.
Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer speaks at a meeting with President Donald Trump, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and pharmaceutical executives at the White House, on March 2. Andrew Harnik/AP

President Donald Trump took an experimental antibody cocktail for Covid-19 Friday after he was diagnosed with the deadly virus.

"There comes a point where skepticism has to give way to pragmatism when we're in a pandemic," said Dr. Leonard Schleifer, the head of Regeneron, the biotechnology company that is testing the monoclonal antibody therapy Trump took.
“If we have the luxury of waiting and seeing and nobody's dying or nobody might get very sick or nobody's at high risk, well, then you know you can sit back and wait for all the data to come in."

But some scientists are concerned there’s potential for a bad reaction -- or even the possibility it could make a Covid-19 patient worse.

“We’ve seen no evidence of that and it hasn’t happened in any way that one would be concerned about in thousands of patient trials,” Schleifer noted. “It should take about a week to see if Trump’s symptoms abate.”

Trump has experienced a fever and fatigue, sources have confirmed to CNN.

"I think it was an appropriate choice," the Regeneron chief said. "When you weigh the potential benefit versus the risks, the downsides are very low here because we have not seen any safety concerns."

Some early data from trials of the antibody treatment released earlier this week showed it worked fairly safely with few side effects.

Schleifer said the White House wanted to try the antibody therapy.

"I assume that the White House has its experts and that they saw our information. They read about it. They knew that monoclonal antibodies make sense … and they wanted to try it under certain provisions in the FDA," he said.
1:32 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

Trump has blamed China for a virus that now threatens his health. This will make Beijing nervous

Analysis from CNN's James Griffiths

President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 2.
President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 2. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In his first presidential debate against Joe Biden, Donald Trump made clear who he blames for the coronavirus pandemic. 

"It's China's fault, it should never have happened," the President said, before referring to the virus as the "China plague." 

For months now, he has consistently played up initial failures by Beijing in controlling the pandemic to blame China for the global repercussions -- particularly the catastrophic effects the virus has had in the United States, where it has killed more than 200,000 people and infected upwards of 7.3 million, including the President himself. 

Trump's rhetoric has angered Beijing, which has in turn highlighted Washington's own mishandling of the virus through state media and in official comments. Many countries closer to China and exposed to the virus earlier have nevertheless handled it far better than the US, and most experts are critical of how Trump has responded to the pandemic.

Prior to Trump's diagnosis, China's ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, tweeted that a sound and stable relationship "is in the interests of both countries, and it is needed for achieving the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." 

Beijing has always valued stability above all else. However, Trump's diagnosis -- whatever the outcome -- threatens that stability, setting the stage for an uneasy period for China's top leaders.

Read the full analysis here.

1:04 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

Trump went from diagnosis to hospital in 24 hours. "Something isn't making sense," physician says

Marine One, the presidential helicopter, arrives at the White House to carry President Donald Trump to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 2.
Marine One, the presidential helicopter, arrives at the White House to carry President Donald Trump to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 2. Win McNamee/Getty Images

It's been a chaotic 24 hours since President Donald Trump announced he had tested positive for Covid-19 -- and some gaps in the timeline are raising questions.

Early Friday morning, Trump tweeted that he had tested positive. His physician said shortly afterward that the President was doing well, and would continue his recovery at the White House.

Later that morning, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows spoke to reporters, saying Trump was experiencing moderate symptoms, but was very energetic and in high spirits.

Late in the afternoon, the President's physician said Trump was fatigued, had received a dose of the experimental Regeneron treatment, and would be taken to Walter Reed hospital.

"That raises the question of what happened in that 18-hour period, and to what extent did the President's symptoms develop to the point where his doctors felt he needed to be brought to the hospital?" said CNN's White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond.

"But not only that, but for the President himself to agree with those recommendations and to agree that the benefits of coming to the hospital far outweighed the negatives and projecting an image of weakness rather than the strength he likes to project."

By Friday night, the physician announced Trump had also received the experimental remdesivir drug. Trump tweeted from hospital that it was "going well, I think!"

"We need more transparency than this," said emergency physician Leana Wen. "There are so many missing pieces, I'm struggling to make sense of it."

How infection develops: It usually takes five to seven days to develop coronavirus symptoms, then five to eight days to start showing severe symptoms like shortness of breath, Wen said.

For the President to reach the point of needing treatment and hospital stays within 24 hours of diagnosis -- a process that usually takes two weeks -- "isn't making sense," she added.

12:36 a.m. ET, October 3, 2020

Trump campaign manager tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Ryan Nobles

In this August 28 file photo, Campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside US President Donald Trump as he speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One.
In this August 28 file photo, Campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside US President Donald Trump as he speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a senior official -- becoming the latest figure in the President's inner circle to be infected with Covid-19.

Stepien received the results of the test on Friday night and is suffering from what the official described as "mild flu-like" symptoms.

Stepien traveled to Cleveland with the President and his team on Tuesday for the first presidential debate and was seen in close proximity to Hope Hicks, the President's top aide who also tested positive.

Stepien was among a group of senior Trump campaign staffers who were tested, but was the only one whose results came back positive. Deputy campaign manager Justin Clark’s test results were negative.

Stepien attended debate prep sessions with Kellyanne Conway, who also announced late Friday that she had tested positive.

Politico was the first to report Stepien's positive result.