Donald Trump has posted a bombastic video outside the White House, where he spruiked a new virus “cure” and said his infection was a “blessing from god”.
He has returned to the Oval Office less than one week after he announced he tested positive for COVID-19, saying he feels “like, perfect”.
With speculation rife over the state of his health and when he would make his next public appearance, the President began the video in typical Trump fashion.
“Perhaps you recognise me, it’s your favourite President,” he said before praising America’s doctors and nurses. “We have great people, just a great country.”
He said that when he was taken to hospital last week he “wasn’t feeling so hot”, but that quickly changed thanks a new type of treatment.
He said an experimental antibody cocktail produced by biotech company Regeneron, that has rarely been used outside clinical trials, was a “cure” for coronavirus.
“I feel great. I feel like, perfect,” the president said in the five-minute video. “I think this was a blessing from God, that I caught it.
“This was a blessing in disguise. I caught it, I heard about this drug, I said let me take it, it was my suggestion. I said, let me take it.
“And it was incredible the way it worked, incredible. And I think if I didn’t catch it, we’d be looking at that like a number of other drugs. But it really did a fantastic job. I want to get for you what I got. I’m going to make it free, you’re not going to pay for it.”
Sean Conley, the president’s physician, said that detectable levels of COVID-19 antibodies had been found in a sample drawn Monday. Dr Conley said the antibodies weren’t detected on Thursday.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said that the presence of antibodies in the President’s blood could be the result of him taking the company’s experimental treatment last week.
“They call these therapeutic, but to me it wasn’t therapeutic it just made me better,” Mr Trump claimed in his video. “I call that a cure.”
He added that America will have a “great vaccine very, very shortly”.
“I think we should have it before the election, but frankly the politics gets involved and that’s OK,” he said. “They want to play their games but it will be right after the election.”
He finished the video by launching an attack on China.
He promised every American would soon have access to Regeneron, and it would be free because it wasn’t their fault.
“It wasn’t your fault this happened,” he said. “It was China’s fault and China’s going to pay a big price for what they’ve done to this county.
“China’s going to pay a big price for what they’ve done to the world. This was China’s fault and just remember that.”
WHAT IS TRUMP’S NEW ‘CURE’?
Regeneron’s antibody cocktail is known as REGN-COV2. On Friday, the White House released a memo stating Mr Trump had been given an infusion of the experimental mix.
Known as a monoclonal antibody therapy, the cocktail is a combination of antibodies which mimic our own immune response.
This means the antibodies physically stick to the coronavirus so they can’t get inside the body’s cells and they make the virus more “visible” to the rest of the immune system.
Regeneron said last week trials of its cocktail show it reduced viral load and the time to alleviate symptoms in non-hospitalised patients with COVID-19.
“After months of incredibly hard work by our talented team, we are extremely gratified to see that Regeneron’s antibody cocktail REGN-COV2 rapidly reduced viral load and associated symptoms in infected COVID-19 patients,” George D. Yancopoulos, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron, said in a statement.
“The greatest treatment benefit was in patients who had not mounted their own effective immune response, suggesting that REGN-COV2 could provide a therapeutic substitute for the naturally-occurring immune response. These patients were less likely to clear the virus on their own, and were at greater risk for prolonged symptoms.”
However, the treatment has yet to pass randomised clinical trials, and no data from human trials has been released in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The President has ties to Regeneron’s billionaire CEO Leonard Schleifer, according to a CNN report.
The report alleges Mr Schleifer has been a member at Mr Trump’s golf club in Westchester, New York, and his company also received $450 million in government funding in July as part of the president’s Operation Warp Speed plan to quickly develop a vaccine and other treatments for COVID-19.
Shares of Regeneron have surged since Mr Trump left hospital.
According to Forbes, Mr Schleifer is now worth $2.5 billion, up from $2.1 billion in the middle of March.
However, he primarily donated to Democratic political candidates in the 2016 and 2018 elections, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Regeneron has played down ties between Mr Schleifer and the President.
“Len and President Trump are acquaintances from both living in the Westchester area for many years but didn’t have any regular contact until this year, when they’ve discussed matters around COVID on occasion,” a spokesman for the company told CNN.