Trump is described as symptom-free, but experts question the significance of antibody test results

“It doesn’t give us a lot of information, and it doesn’t make much sense,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona.

Written by Katie Thomas, Glenn Thrush and Katherine J. Wu

President Donald Trump is symptom-free, has required no supplemental oxygen and says he is feeling “great,” according to a statement released on Wednesday by the White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley.

But he offered no further details about Trump’s treatment, including whether he was still taking a steroid treatment to treat the disease.

In addition, Conley’s statement that a test on Monday revealed that Trump had antibodies to the coronavirus was immediately questioned by immunologists, who said the results were virtually meaningless given that only days earlier, the president had received a large dose of an experimental antibody cocktail that would show up in his bloodstream.

“It doesn’t give us a lot of information, and it doesn’t make much sense,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona.

In the letter, Conley noted that an antibody test conducted on Trump “late Thursday night” showed no detectable antibody levels. A subsequent test, drawn on Monday, the day Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, did show detectable levels of immunoglobulin G, the antibody created by the body’s immune system to fight the virus.

On Friday, Trump received an infusion of a treatment that is still being tested in clinical trials. The cocktail, made by Regeneron, is thought to help the body mount an immune response by providing an infusion of powerful antibodies.

Hala Mirza, a spokeswoman for Regeneron, said most of the standard tests for so-called IgG antibodies would not distinguish between ones that the body produced on its own and the ones that were made by Regeneron. “Given the volume of IgG antibodies delivered in our therapy, and the timing of these tests, it is likely that the second test is detecting” the Regeneron antibodies, she said.

Bhattacharya said the results that Conley shared wouldn’t shed much light on Trump’s condition. “The way that it’s implied is that he’s made a normal immune response, but I don’t see how you would be able to tell the difference,” he said.

The brief note marked the second consecutive day that Trump’s medical team did not hold a question-and-answer session with reporters. The note from Conley did not provide other medical updates, such as whether he is continuing to take the steroid dexamethasone, and whether he has completed his course of remdesivir, an experimental antiviral treatment.

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