August 15, 2022


Design meets need

How expensive is remdesivir? Is Trump contagious? We’re answering your questions about the president and COVID-19

14 min read

President Donald Trump was at the White House on Wednesday after spending the weekend battling COVID-19 at a Maryland hospital.

Where Trump traveled, who he met with the week before testing positive for COVID-19



The president announced on Twitter early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus and, since then, more than two dozen people in and around the White House have also tested positive.

Friday evening, Trump flew to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Marine One and returned to the White House on Monday. Doctors want to confine Trump to the White House residence as he recovers, but one aide claimed he did wander over to the Oval Office on Tuesday – though others said he had only planned to go there.

a man wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus.

© Win McNamee, Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus.

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What do you want to know about Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis? Submit your questions via this form and we will continue to answer your questions here.

Will the drugs used to treat Trump’s COVID be available to the rest of the nation?

– Bob from San Antonio, Texas

Trump’s therapies have been similar to those available to most other hospitalized COVID-19 patients – with two major exceptions. The president received a dose of an experimental drug only tried so far in about 2,000 people as part of a research trial, and he’s gotten everything far sooner than would a typical COVID-19 patient.

Soon after arriving at the hospital Friday evening, Trump was given the first of five doses of remdesivir, an antiviral. The drug, made by Gilead Sciences of California, was developed to treat Ebola but has been repurposed to use against COVID-19.

Less than 48 hours after his first symptoms, he had already received a dose of a monoclonal antibody made by Regeneron, a New York biotech company. The drug, REGN-COV2, is intended to mimic the natural process of the immune system, providing it with molecules called antibodies the body normally manufactures to fight off specific diseases.

Trump was able to get it under a “compassionate use” exemption, which the company said it has granted to fewer than 10 people so far, after requests from their doctors and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a process that typically takes days to weeks.

The company estimates between 70,000 and 300,000 treatment doses will be available under an agreement with the U.S. government, which would provide the treatment for free to COVID-19 patients.

How expensive is each remdesivir treatment Trump receives?

— Geri from Horse Cave, Kentucky

For remdesivir, private insurance companies will pay $520 per vial or $3,120 for a five-day course of treatment, while the company will charge the U.S. government $390 per vial, or $2,340 per patient.

As for REGN-COV2, prices aren’t set for drugs until they’re approved by the FDA. But monoclonal antibodies are usually extremely expensive. Cancer-related monoclonal antibodies often cost nearly $100,000 a year, according to one 2018 study. For COVID-19, monoclonal antibodies are expected to be orders of magnitude cheaper, likely on the order of a few thousand dollars for a single-dose regimen.

Does Trump have a fever?

– Grace from New Haven, Connecticut

White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo Tuesday that Trump was doing “extremely well.”

“He had a restful night at home, and today he reports no symptoms. Vital signs and physical exam remain stable,” Conley said.

Conley said Saturday morning that the president had been fever free for over 24 hours.

How many people were infected during the nomination event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett?

– Satish from Elk Grove, California

Trump and at least 11 other people who attended a White House ceremony unveiling Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court have been infected, including two Republican members of the Judiciary Committee.

Though the activity was held outside at the Rose Garden, the majority of the 180-plus people in attendance sat close to each other for an extended period, and most people didn’t wear masks. There were smaller indoor gatherings as part of the occasion. That combination may have resulted in a super spreader event, the type that leads to a cluster of infections.

Help us ID them all: Here’s everyone at the White House Rose Garden event

Others at the ceremony who tested positive for the virus include first lady Melania Trump; former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary; Trump adviser and former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie; GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina; President of Notre Dame University John Jenkins; Pastor Greg Laurie, pastor of the Harvest Christian Fellowship; Karoline Leavitt and Chad Gilmartin, White House press staff; and a reporter covering the announcement.

How many in this administration have tested positive for COVID-19?

– Leah from Island City, Oregon

At least 26 administration officials, associates and other contacts have tested positive. See the full list here.

Meanwhile, most of the nation’s top military leaders are quarantining after coming in contact with a senior officer with COVID-19, according to the Pentagon.

Several administration officials have tested positive before, including National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Vice President Mike Pence press secretary Katie Miller, and one of the president’s personal valets.

When did the president begin to feel ill?

Video: Doctors say Trump doing ‘very well’ at hospital (Associated Press)

Doctors say Trump doing ‘very well’ at hospital



– Linda from New York City

It’s still unclear what day the president first began experiencing symptoms as mixed messaging from the White House continues to muddle the timeline. Trump first announced his diagnosis on Twitter early Friday morning but made no mention of symptoms.

Conley said in a press briefing Saturday morning that Trump experienced a mild cough, nasal congestion and fatigue from COVID-19 on Thursday.

A visual guide: The timeline of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 treatment

Is Trump contagious at this point?

– Geoff from Cross Plains, Wisconsin

While the duration of infectiousness for COVID-19 has yet to be confirmed, scientists believe that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 may shed the virus for up to 10 days after symptoms first appear, according to the CDC.

The virus comes on quickly, and it is most infectious during the day or two before symptoms appear as well as a day or two after someone feels sick, if they ever do. Most people don’t test positive in the first day or two after exposure.

People who have confirmed COVID-19 should be in isolation, not quarantine. “Isolation” separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. “Quarantine” separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

The CDC recommends that people who have had COVID-19 can be around other people again if they meet three criteria: It has been 10 days since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms are improving.

Is Trump isolating himself?

– David from Arcata, California

Economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC that Trump went over to the Oval Office on Tuesday. “The president actually showed up in the Oval Office yesterday with extra precautions,” Kudlow told CNBC.

White House spokesman Ben Williamson, however, said it didn’t happen.

“While the President wanted to be in the Oval Office yesterday, he was not there,” Williamson said. “He stayed back in the residence working from there. Safety preparations have been underway in the event he moves to working out of the Oval in the coming days.”

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Trump’s schedule is “fluid.”

The White House said in a statement Tuesday that residence staff in direct contact with the First Family are tested daily, with support staff tested every 48 hours. The residence has hired independent health consultants to check on staff and their families. Staff wear full PPE and “continue to take all necessary precautions, which include updated procedures to protect against cross contamination,” the White House said.

What is the first lady’s present condition?

– Danny from Savannah, Georgia

First lady Melania Trump has been isolating at the White House after testing positive for the coronavirus. She did not leave the White House to visit the president in the hospital.

“I am feeling good and will continue to rest at home,” she said on Twitter on Monday.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff and spokeswoman, told USA TODAY on Monday that she and other members of the first lady’s East Wing staff have all tested negative and are working from home.

Conley on Saturday said that the first lady “has no indication for hospitalization, advanced therapy.”

How is their son, Barron Trump, doing?

– Monica from Thousand Oaks, California

Grisham told USA TODAY over the weekend that Barron, 14, had tested negative, and “all precautions are being taken to ensure he’s kept safe and healthy.”

It was not clear if Barron was in the White House with his mother.

Is there any news regarding Hope Hicks’ condition?

– Julia from Manassas, Virginia

It’s unclear how Hope Hicks is faring. Trump announced on Twitter late Thursday that the longtime aide had tested positive for the coronavirus.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the White House learned of Hicks’ positive test as Marine One was lifting off the South Lawn on Thursday to take the president to a fundraiser in New Jersey. Questions later surfaced about why Trump attended the campaign event knowing he had been exposed to someone with a positive test result. 

Trump went ahead with campaign events in: After Hope Hicks tested positive

Hicks is frequently in contact with the president and was with Trump as he traveled to and from the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday. She appears in a photo deplaning in Cleveland, not wearing a protective face mask. Hicks also traveled aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for a Minnesota rally Wednesday.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy blasted Trump as “reckless” on Monday for coming to the state last week even though Hicks had been diagnosed with COVID-19. He said his administration is investigating whether the Thursday fundraising event at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster violated the governor’s executive orders by exceeding capacity limits and providing a buffet meal to the 206 attendees.

When was Trump’s last confirmed negative COVID-19 test?

– Lisa from Safety Harbor, Florida

It is unclear if Trump was tested prior to last Tuesday’s presidential debate. Trump arrived at the debate venue late, and, according to Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who moderated the debate on Sept. 29 in Ohio, the timing of Trump’s arrival meant that there was insufficient time for Trump to get tested and receive a result. 

A coronavirus test made by Abbott, a U.S. health care company, can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes. However, the test may return a high rate of false negatives. The White House did not return a request for comment on Wallace’s allegation. 

“I’m not going to get into all the testing going back, but he and all the staff routinely are tested,” Conley said Saturday.

During a press briefing in May, Trump said he had been receiving “on average a test every two days, three days.” Earlier that same day, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who announced Monday that she also had tested positive for the coronavirus, said Trump was tested “multiple times a day.”

How much do Trump’s existing risk factors impact his ability to fully recover?

– Jana from Salt Lake City, Utah

Trump has several risk factors that put him on the more worrisome end of the spectrum. His age, weight and gender all add to his vulnerability.

Trump turned 74 in June, putting him at five-times higher risk of hospitalization and 90-times higher risk of death than someone in their 20s, according to the CDC. Just a year older, and he’d be at eight-times higher risk of hospitalization and 220-times higher risk of death.

The president’s weight-to-height ratio bumps him just over the boundaries of what’s considered obese, putting him at three-times higher risk of a serious infection compared to someone at a healthier weight, according to the CDC.

Being male also puts Trump at higher risk. Just over 54% of Americans who have died of COVID-19 have been male, while 46% have been female; in Trump’s age group, 61% of the deaths have been among men.

Contributing: Karen Weintraub, Elinor Aspegren, Jeanine Santucci, David Jackson, Jorge L. Ortiz, Savannah Behrmann and Maria Puente, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How expensive is remdesivir? Is Trump contagious? We’re answering your questions about the president and COVID-19

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