SoCal doctors discuss experimental drug and contact tracing for President Trump

President Donald Trump is being treated with an experimental antibody cocktail from the company, Regeneron.

"Regeneron has been working on an antibody cocktail for quite some time and first tested it against MERS [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome], that's one of the other coronavirus pandemics that started 2008 or so. The Regeneron product is an antibody product. It's part manmade, part natural," said Dr. Michael Hirt from the Center for Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Hirt said the cocktail is not yet FDA approved.

"Doctors are not using this in mass. It's still limited to clinical trials because it hasn't been proven effective in COVID-19. It has been shown to be effective in other coronaviruses so we have high hopes," he said.

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President Trump is also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin. Dr. Hirt said some of the treatments help boost the immune system.

"There are vitamins like vitamin A, C and D that are very helpful for boosting the immune system. Vitamin A is another one that's really good for the lungs as well. Minerals like Zinc, are very effective and have been shown in clinical trials to reduce the chances of things like the flu. There are things you should not do like eating a lot of sugar, fast food. This is not the time to be counteracting the effectiveness of the immune system," said Hirt.

Dr. Andrew Wachtel, the Adjunct Clinical Professor of Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and the Co-Director of Southern California Institute for Respiratory Diseases, also spoke about the effectiveness of the clinical drug.

"The President is getting a drug that looks like it's going to be beneficial. We don't have the final data, but it was certainly at least in the trials, the drug was safe. When we look at drugs, we look at safety and effectiveness. Phase two trials look at small numbers of patients to see if it's safe and if it's effective. Even though we don't have a large trial to draw exceptional statistical significance, we know that it's safe," he said.

Wachtel said the President's response to the treatment does not indicate how others will react to the drug.

"We have a lot of politics and science, and just because one person has a response to a drug doesn't mean that the drug is effective. It could mean his response was unrelated to the drug so that's why we're doing clinical trials to see if the drug actually is effective," he said.

One of the concerns regarding the President's diagnosis is contact tracing.

"We've seen the complexity of contact tracing play out over and over again during this pandemic. It's very difficult when you have an airborne virus that is spread easily through the air, spread through multiple people at a time and be able to track down who has been infected. The President makes it in particular complicated because he's been traveling," said Dr. Anne Rimoin, a Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Global and Immigrant Health at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Rimoin compared the complexity of contact tracing to the Disneyland Measles outbreak from 2015.

"We were tracking thousands of people. It put a massive strain on our public health system in Southern California. You can imagine having to do this in multiple states, thousands of people all over the United States, just from one or two people that are positive," she said.

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Rimoin said though Democractic Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden, and others who were around Trump have announced they tested negative for COVID-19, they are not in the clear yet.

"What we know with COVID is that you're most likely to test positive after exposure between days five and eight so we are definitely not in that sweet spot yet so we can definitely anticipate many more cases. Remember that the incubation period is two days to 14 days and a person could become positive any time within that window that's why we ask people to quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to a positive case," said Rimoin.

Rimoin said it is important to continue practicing social distancing and to wear a mask and wash your hands during the pandemic.

"All of the modeling that's been done has shown that if everybody wore a mask today, we would save 100,000 lives. The virus doesn't care about your political affiliation. It doesnt care about anything except spreading and given the opportunity, it will spread so we all have to do our part," she said.