The military has available most of the same therapeutics used to treat President Donald Trump for COVID-19 should it become necessary to assist the recovery of the deputy chiefs of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, said Thursday.
Neither Marine Assistant Commandant Gen. Gary Thomas nor Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray, who recently tested positive, has been hospitalized. But, Place said, “We have therapies that either we hold licenses to, or we have use under emergency use authorizations.”
“The most common of those involve the use of steroids — dexamethasone is a good example of it — COVID convalescent plasma, so the blood plasma of those who have recovered from a prior COVID infection, and Remdesivir,” he said in a call-in forum sponsored by the Defense Writers Group.
Trump’s doctors have said he was treated with dexamethasone, Remdesivir and Regeneron’s REGN-COV2 experimental monoclonal antibody therapy during his weekend stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, before returning to the White House on Monday.
Place did not say whether the military also has access to the Regeneron therapy, which has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use, although it was authorized for compassionate use.
Regeneron announced late Wednesday that it had applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization.
The Coast Guard announced that Ray tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday after feeling symptoms over the weekend and is isolating at home.
Ray also attended meetings at the Pentagon last Friday, at which Thomas was present, according to Defense Department officials.
Several other military leaders who also attended the Friday meetings, including Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, have since tested negative but are isolating as a precaution, according to Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
Place, a physician who has had two deployments to Afghanistan, said Thomas and Ray’s infections, and the precautionary quarantining of other military leaders, are a testament to the unpredictability of the virus.
He declined comment on Trump’s recent statements telling Americans “don’t be afraid of COVID.”
Place explained that, with COVID-19, “You don’t necessarily know you’re infected [and] you don’t know if it can spread” once a test is positive.
“Absent total isolation, there’s no way to totally prevent spread,” he said.
— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.
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