Number 10 thanks Trump for his offer of treatment for the PM

Number 10 thanks Trump for his offer of experimental coronavirus treatment for Boris Johnson and says officials are in ‘constant contact’ with the US government

  • Trump offered his support for Boris Johnson at his White House briefing Monday 
  • UK prime minister was put in the ICU due to ‘persistent’ symptoms of COVID-19
  • ‘I want to send best wishes to a very good friend of mine,’ Trump said today
  • President had asked two medicine companies to contact London immediately 

Number 10 has thanked Donald Trump for his offer of experimental coronavirus treatment for Boris Johnson and said officials are in ‘constant contact’ with the US government.

The American President said he had told two ‘genius’ drug companies to contact British authorities this morning after hearing the British prime minister had been transferred to intensive care in a London hospital.

Mr Johnson remains ‘stable’ and in ‘good spirits’ this afternoon, a spokesman said, and is breathing without assistance.

President Donald Trump offered his support for Boris Johnson after the UK prime minister was taken into intensive care in London on Monday

Responding to Trump’s offer, a spokesman for the prime minister said: ‘We are grateful for all of the warm wishes the Prime Minister has received overnight.

‘We are confident the Prime Minister is receiving the best possible care from the National Health Service. 

‘Any treatment he receives is a matter for his doctors.’

Trump told his daily news conference this morning: ‘I want to send best wishes to a very good friend of mine, and a friend to our nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson,’ Trump said at his daily White House briefing. 

‘We are very saddened to hear that he was taken into intensive care this afternoon a little while ago. And Americans are all praying for his recovery.

‘He has been a really good friend pretty something special. Very strong. Resolute, he does not quit. Does not give up.’ 

Boris Johnson was transferred to intensive care in St Thomas’ hospital, London , yesterday

Trump held a conference about therapeutic drugs with the bosses of four US pharmaceutical and biotech firms – Genetech, Amgen, Gilead and Regeneron – before making his announcement. 

While he stopped short of specifically naming the treatment, it’s believed he was referencing hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug Trump has repeatedly touted as a ‘game changer’ for coronavirus patients. 

Johnson was transferred to the ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital in London at around 7pm local time Monday – 11 days after he tested positive for COVID-19.  

Johnson was transferred to the ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital in London at 7pm local time on Monday – 11 days after testing positive for COVID-19. He posted a video about his symptoms on Friday (pictured)

The 55-year-old Conservative was conscious and did not require ventilation, but he was moved into intensive care in case he needs it later, his office said in a statement.  

Speaking at the White House hours later, Trump said that he had tapped two US drug companies to liaise with Johnson’s office about the prime minister’s care.  

‘We have made tremendous progress on therapeutics. I had a fantastic call today that I will be talking about a little bit later,’ Trump said. 

‘I have asked two of the leading companies – these are brilliant companies, they have come up with solutions and just have done incredible jobs – I have asked them to contact to London immediately.  

‘They speak a language that most people do not even understand – but I understand something that they have really advanced there, therapeutically, and that they have arrived in London already.

‘The London office has whatever they need. And we will see if we can be of help. We have contacted all of Boris’ doctors, and we will see what is going to take place. But they are ready to go.

Trump added: ‘But when you get brought into intensive care, that gets very, very serious with this particular disease. 

‘So, the two companies are there. And with what they are talking about, and it is rather complex, and has had really incredible results.

‘We are working with the FDA and everybody else, but we are working with London with respect to Boris Johnson.’

Trump (center) and Johnson (right) are seen together with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (left) at the NATO Summit in London on December 4, 2019. During Monday’s press briefing, Trump called the British PM ‘a very good friend of mine, and a friend to our nation’

Trump was asked to clarify the treatment US drug companies were looking into for Johnson later in Monday’s White House briefing. 

‘It’s a very complex treatment of things they just recently developed and that they have a lot of experience with having to do with something else,’ Trump said.

While he stopped short of specifically naming the treatment, it’s believed he was referencing hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug Trump has repeatedly touted as a ‘game changer’ for coronavirus patients. 

‘They have already had meetings with the doctors, and we will see whether or not they want to go that route,’ Trump said. 

WHICH DRUGS ARE BEING TESTED IN THE THREE MAJOR TRIALS? 

Hydroxychloroquine 

The malaria drug chloroquine is the best coronavirus treatment currently available, according to an international poll of thousands of doctors. Pictured: hydroxychloroquine, a version of it, is prescribed in the US under the brand name Plaquenil

What are the brand versions of the drug?

Plaquenil.

What does it treat?

Malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It is a less powerful and, by some experts’ accounts, less toxic, version of chloroquine phosphate.

Who makes it and where has it already been tested?

Drug giant Sanofi carried out a study on 24 patients, which the French government described as ‘promising’. 

French health officials are now planning on a larger trial of the drug, which is used on the NHS. 

What have studies shown?

Results from the French study showed three quarters of patients treated with the drug were cleared of the virus within six days. None of the placebo group were treated. 

How does it work?

It interferes with viral molecules replicating in red blood cells.

Is it being tested in the UK?

It is thought to be among 1,000 drugs being tested at Queens University Belfast. 

What are its side effects?  

Skin rashes, nausea, diarrhoea and headaches.

What do the experts think?

Chinese scientists investigating the other form of chloroquine penned a letter to a prestigious journal saying its ‘less toxic’ derivative may also help.

In the comment to Cell Discovery – owned by publisher Nature, they said it shares similar chemical structures and mechanisms.

The team of experts added: ‘It is easy to conjure up the idea that hydroxychloroquine may be a potent candidate to treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.’ 

Lopinavir/ritonavir, marketed under the brand names Kaletra and Aluvia, is an anti-HIV medicine

Lopinavir/ritonavir 

What are the brand versions of the drug?

Kaletra and Aluvia.

What does it treat? 

It is an anti-HIV medicine given to people living with the virus to prevent it developing into AIDS.

Who makes it?

Illinois-based manufacturer AbbVie donated free supplies of the drug to authorities in China, the US and Europe for tests.

What have studies shown? 

Chinese media reported that the drug was successfully used to cure patients with the coronavirus, but the reports have not been scientifically proven.

A separate Chinese study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the lopinavir-ritonavir combination did not improve survival or speed recovery of COVID-19 patients.

However, the authors noted they had enrolled a ‘severely ill population’ of patients.

In a clinical trial submission, scientists in South Korea said lab studies have: ‘In vitro [laboratory] studies revealed that lopinavir/ritonavir [has] antiviral activity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).’

How does it work? 

It is a class of drug called a protease inhibitor, which essentially stick to an enzyme on a virus which is vital to the virus reproducing. 

By doing this it blocks the process the virus would normally use to clone itself and spread the infection further.  

Other drugs  

Shock-dependent hydrocortisone (sold under brand names Hydrocort, Alphosyl, Aquacort, Cortef, Cortenema, and SoluCortef)

Ceftriaxone (brand name Rocephin)

Moxifloxacin 

Piperacillin-tazobactam (brand name Tazocin)

Ceftaroline 

Amoxicillin-clavulanate

Macrolide (brand names Zithromax, Klacid, Erymax, Erythrocin, Erythroped and Erythroped A) 

Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) 

Interferon-β1a

Anakinra  

‘When you are in intensive care, it’s a big deal,’ he added. ‘So they [the drug companies] are there and they are ready.

‘They have everything with them, should it be needed. Hopefully it won’t have to be needed.

‘I found Boris to be a fantastic person, just like a fantastic, warm, strong, smart guy who loves his country. You’ll see that.

‘He fought for his country. Intensive care is big stuff.’

Another reporter then asked if the developments in Johnson’s case had affected the steps the Trump administration is taking to protect the president and vice president. 

‘I had my test a couple days ago. We are here. And here you are. So no, I don’t think so,’ Trump said. 

‘But I think we’ll probably – just because of questions like that – I think we’ll probably have quite a few tests. It’s not the worst idea. 

‘You know, this system of testing now so quick and so easy.’ 

The US currently leads the world in coronavirus cases, with more than 347,500 infections and at least 10,358 deaths as of Monday evening. 

Nationwide, a new case is reported roughly every three seconds.  

In the UK, more than 51,608 cases have been reported, including 5,373 deaths. A new case is reported roughly every 18 seconds.  

The US currently leads the world in coronavirus cases, more than 368,200 infections and 11,000 deaths reported as of Monday

In the UK, more than 51,608 cases have been reported, including 5,373 deaths

Johnson took a laid-back approach to addressing the coronavirus pandemic in his country in its early days – repeatedly downplaying the need for drastic measures such as social distancing.  

In early March he appeared to be on a mission to shake hands with people – despite global health guidelines – once revealing that he’d done so with hospitalized coronavirus patients.  

His rhetoric changed around March 16, when he publicly advised against mass gatherings.  

The UK finally shuttered nonessential businesses on March 20 – a week before Johnson tested positive for COVID-19. 

The prime minister subsequently began self-isolating at home while continuing to preside at daily meetings on the outbreak and releasing multiple video messaging urging Britons to heed social distancing guidelines.  

He was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital with ‘persistent’ coronavirus symptoms on Sunday.

Hours before he was moved to the ICU, Johnson tweeted that he was in good spirits and thanked the National Health Service for taking care of him.  

British health experts have appeared unanimous in their view that the PM’s admission to intensive care means he is ‘extremely sick’. 

Johnson has asked foreign secretary Dominic Raab to deputize for him ‘where necessary’, although it is understood Raab will not formally become a temporary prime minister. 

Speaking after the PM was moved to intensive care, Raab insisted that ‘government business will continue’ and said there is a fantastic ‘team spirit’ among ministers. 

He also reassured that the premier was ‘receiving excellent care’ and thanked the NHS medics who were treating him and other patients across Britain.  

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