Florida man given same experimental treatment as President Trump shares story of COVID-19 recovery

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TAMPA (WFLA) – As President Trump plans to hold his first rally following his coronavirus diagnosis last week, 8 On Your Side spoke with the first COVID-19 patient at Tampa General Hospital who received the same experimental antibody cocktail as the president.

Radio show host Christopher Denson is back in the Keepin It Real Underground studio with his COVID-19 survivor pin.

“For people to get sick like that,” Denson said, “I wouldn’t wish it on nobody.”

Unlike the vast majority of Americans who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 during the pandemic, Denson is one of the few hundred who has received the promising experimental drug. The White House requested the drug for President Trump under “compassionate use.”

“The science is top notch and I think the prediction among most of us is if anything experimental out there would work, this would be it,” said Dr. Kami Kim, Director of the University of South Florida’s Division of Infectious Disease & International Medicine

Biotech company Regeneron announced Wednesday that it submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a request for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its REGN-COV2 investigational antibody combination for COVID-19.

Denson said he already had pneumonia in both lungs when he checked into Tampa General Hospital in July.

“The symptoms just went down down down down to where my breathing was at 46 when it was supposed to be a 100,” Denson said.

Denson says he felt like he had no choice but to try the Regeneron antibody cocktail when doctors approached him about enrolling in the clinical trial. Doctors confirmed to 8 On Your Side that he did not receive the placebo.

“I was already feeling on my way out so really nothing, you can’t die twice,” Denson said.

Denson says the positive effect on his recovery were almost immediate.

“Before the bag was even empty I was out of the bed,” Denson said. “Something I couldn’t do for three days.”

He said he left the hospital the next day.

Before the president tried Regeneron antibody treatment, Dr. Kim said Tampa General Hospital had trouble enrolling COVID-19 patients in the trial.

“This week we’ve had no problems recruiting patients,” Dr. Kim said. “Pretty much everybody we asked said yes.”

Dr. Kim added she hopes the scientific studies continue even if the FDA grants an Emergency Use Authorization in order to “really get the data to know definitively whether this drug really works and who it works best in, who will benefit the most.”

According to Regeneron, there are doses available for approximately 50,000 patients and the biotech company plans to scale up to 300,000 in the next few months.

“Under our agreement with the U.S. government for the initial doses of REGN-COV2, if an EUA is granted the government has committed to making these doses available to the American people at no cost and would be responsible for their distribution,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Back in his radio studio, Denson is putting politics aside.

“I know how a lot of people feel about Trump, but I was hoping that he took it so he can get back in the race,” Denson said.

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