President waves to the cameras from Truman balcony (Getty Images)
President Donald Trump was given an expensive and not publicly available coronavirus treatment just days before telling Americans not to be “afraid” of the disease.
Before his transfer to the Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday, Mr Trump, 74, was given a dose of REGN-COV2 – an artificial antibody therapy made by Regeneron, a pharmaceutical company.
The treatment is so rare that it has been used on fewer than 10 people outside of clinical trials, according to the Washington Post.
It is still being tested and has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning it is not available to the general public.
REGN-COV2 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.
During his treatment, the president was also given remdesivir and dexamethasone, making him the “only patient on the planet” to receive all three treatments at the same time, according to Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University.
Before leaving hospital on Monday, the president told Americans not to let Covid-19 “dominate your life”.
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” said Mr Trump, despite recieving supplemental oxygen twice over the course of the weekend.
“Don’t be afraid of Covid… We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
But critics were quick to point out that not all Americans would have access to the drugs that the president recieved.
“Of course, this is the president of the USA. He is going to get the kitchen sink thrown at him medically, offered all there is – whether it’s authorized under emergency use or not, in the case of the antibody treatment,” said epidemiologist Dr Seema Yasmin.
“But then there are 210,000 Americans who have died over the past few months because the pandemic response has been so bad. And they certainly didn’t get access to this kind of treatment.”
The president returned to Washington DC on Monday evening insisting that he was feeling well and in good spirits.
In a highly staged performance, Mr Trump – who is likely still contagious – posed for photos after exiting Marine One on the South Lawn. He then headed for the Truman balcony, where he ripped off his face mask and gave a thumbs-up to the waiting media.
After pausing for a few moments, the president then turned and entered a room full of aides, still without wearing a face covering.
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Trump rips off mask as he arrives back at White House after checking himself out of hospital