As President Trump tests positive for coronavirus, investors and health officials worry over the state of the vaccine race and testing. Dr. Isaac Bogach, an Infectious Diseases Specialist, joins The Final Round to discuss his thoughts on the latest developments with the coronavirus and the vaccine race.
SEANA SMITH: And Anjalee, when you were talking, we were also getting some additional headlines here from President Trump's doctors and that President Trump has been treated with Regeneron antibody cocktail. He is also saying he's fatigued but in good spirits. So for more on all this and, of course, on the vaccine news, as well, we want to bring in Dr. Isaac Bogoch. He's infectious disease specialist.
And Dr. Bogoch, let me just first get your reaction to the treatment news that we're getting that that's crossing right now with President Trump being treated with a Regeneron antibody cocktail just in terms of what you think about that, whether or not that's safe, and also, what your thoughts are just in terms of some of those risk factors that we just heard about from Anjalee.
ISAAC BOGOCH: Yeah, so certainly we know this far into the pandemic who's at greatest risk of having a more severe outcome from this infection. And, you know, without speculating on this individual, yeah, we already know that people who are on the older end of the spectrum, certainly those over the age of 60 and people who have other medical comorbidities, like heart disease, lung disease, obesity, just, for example, are at greater risk of having a severe outcome.
And similar to that, we know males are as well. So, you know, it comes to no one's surprise who is at greater risk of having a syndrome that's on the more severe end of the spectrum. But, you know, in all fairness, that doesn't mean that everyone is going to. And as it was pointed out earlier, it's very difficult to predict who's going to take a more severe course and who isn't.
So at the end of the day, we treat everyone as an individual, even though we have some statistics that point out, you know, certain high risk groups. There are some treatments that are available. We have an evidence-based way of using certain therapeutics. Our list of therapeutics is growing. And we'll have more and more options, I think, as time goes on. Currently, there's about three drugs that are really used to treat COVID-19 right now.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: And looking at that, I know that there-- I know I've had discussions all day with individuals talking about the potential that he could, in fact, get one of these antibody therapies. And some said it was pretty risky because there's no approval authorization. They're still in late phase trials. What are your thoughts on the fact that, you know, there isn't a experimental therapy being used right now?
ISAAC BOGOCH: Yeah, so some data has actually emerged pretty recently with some of these antibody cocktail. And it looked like it was pretty promising data. It was actually released only a few days ago. And but many of these trials have been going on for the last few months. And the shreds of data that we're getting from them looked like they're headed in the right direction. But I think it's pretty early to confidently state exactly what these therapeutics do and their true effectiveness.
I still think, as was pointed out earlier, we still have a lot more questions than answers at this point of the game. I'm not speculating on your president. But certainly we know that for more severe infections, we use other drugs as well. One of them is a steroid called dexamethasone. That's for people who are really sick enough to be in hospital and requiring a supplemental oxygen.
And then there's a targeted antiviral drug, remdesivir, which probably has its best use in the sicker end of the spectrum in hospital, although there are some studies that came out showing people who are on the more mild end of the spectrum may, keyword may, have some benefit from that drug. But I think the data was a little weak to be honest for the milder end of the spectrum. And its probable utility is greatest with the more severe end of the spectrum.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Certainly what I have heard. And so the fact that they're not giving him the drugs that are definitely for the more severe end of the spectrum is interesting. But on this news of the cocktail therapy, does that indicate the severity that they believe that he has, even though we're hearing that it's a mild case right now?
ISAAC BOGOCH: Yeah, I honestly have no idea. It's so hard to know. And it's kind of challenging to speculate. And, you know, and, quite frankly, whatever shreds of data they give us, I'm sure everyone's going to be pouring over it and analyzing every micro detail. But I obviously, it's important that everyone wants to know. But, you know, I don't know what the utility is of speculating.
You know, they said he's got a mild illness. OK, he's got milder the illness. He's in the company with, unfortunately, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of other people globally every day that are going to get infected with this and have mild illness. It stinks. It's a terrible situation. And obviously regardless of anyone's political affiliation, no one wants-- and I don't want anyone to get sick. And I really hope he-- he's got a-- him and his wife have a speedy recovery.
AKIKO FUJITA: Doctor, there's still a lot of specifics being pieced together in terms of the timeline of how this infection sort of rolled out, really. But when you look at the Supreme Court event, for example, that was held in the Rose Garden, there are five people that have now tested positive. You're looking at three White House correspondents that have reportedly now tested positive as well. When you piece together the details that have been coming out, what does that say about the extent of the infection? Is it pretty much in line with how you have seen these infections go over the last several months if you can speak to your understanding of the virus?
ISAAC BOGOCH: That's a very good point in that we often think about when there's a positive case, the public health authorities will do an investigation and do what's called contact tracing to see, you know, who were you exposed to? Where did you possibly get this? And who else could you have possibly exposed along the way?
And, you know, this is a unique situation that in that it's a very high profile individual, of course, who's also been to several events that involve lots of other people. And we've even seen these were events where, perhaps, they might be more prone to spreading infection. Indoor events with lots of people. We often saw masks not being worn. And those are the things that we've seen.
Of course, who knows what's been happening behind the scenes. So I think it'll be actually pretty challenging. I know-- I don't think there's going to be a smoking gun despite some high profile names already testing positive and people drawing a conclusive line from this person infected causing another infection in another person. I think it might be a little more challenging. And certainly there may be several other people that might have been infected and who are in close contact.
And again, it is all speculation. And and, quite frankly, at the end of the day, we know how this virus is transmitted. We know how to protect people. We know how to prevent transmission. And I think the lesson learned from this is put on a mask when you go indoors. spread apart by 2 meters, keep your hands clean, avoid large crowds, and we'll all be OK.
RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Dr. Bogoch, Rick Newman here. I'm wondering how the treatment President Trump is apparently getting compares with the typical patient's experience. So Trump has now gotten this Regeneron antibody cocktail less than 24 hours after being diagnosed. He's got these other things available to him if he needs it.
I have a feeling that the typical patient would not be getting the Regeneron cocktail [INAUDIBLE] President Trump has, right? I mean, if you come down with this and you test positive and you have mild symptoms, mostly, doctors just going to tell you to stay home. They're not going to say get the Regeneron cocktail, right?
ISAAC BOGOCH: Yeah, Rick, you'd be spot on on that. I can tell you about 100% of the people I see-- and by about 100%, I mean 100% of the people I see with mild COVID-19 infections-- are not getting Regeneron. And you're right. I mean, we know this is a pandemic because sadly, it's a pretty contagious infection. And on the other hand, in addition to that, most people that get this do fine.
And, of course, we're well aware of the devastation it can cause. We're well aware of how it can cause severe illness and how it can overwhelm health care systems if it's left unchecked. But really, many, many, many people have a mild course of illness and will recover. And that's why we have a pandemic, because there are people with mild illness who were, you know, walking around and infecting other people.
So many people who are infected will just have what we call supportive care. Go home, have some chicken soup, lie on the couch, isolate yourself from others, take, you know, a fever abating medication if you have a fever, and this will all pass in a few days. Of course, I can't stress this enough. I'm not trying to undermine the severity of this infection.
It is a severe infection in some people. We have to do everything we can to prevent community transmission to protect vulnerable populations, because we know it can be rather severe in certain age groups and in other demographics. And it has disproportionately impacted marginalized-- marginalized individuals in our society.
So I'm not trying to undermine the severity of this illness. But we do know that many people actually do have mild courses of illness. And those individuals typically have supportive care. Stay at home, recover on the comfort of your own couch, and you'll get better.
RICK NEWMAN: Just one quick follow-up on that. At what point would a typical patient get something like that Regeneron cocktail?
ISAAC BOGOCH: Oh, that's a good question in that it would probably be at this point as part of an ongoing clinical trial. You know, it's not really-- at this point in time I think in much of the world, many of these drugs just aren't widely available. And usually people would be enrolled in clinical trial setting to have access to those drug.
SEANA SMITH: Dr. Isaac Bogoch, always great to have you on the show and to get your perspective. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.
ISAAC BOGOCH: My pleasure. Have a great day.