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What Happens to Your Body When You Take Remdesivir

Here’s everything you need to know about the drug President Trump took to fight coronavirus.

In the past few days, the care of President Donald Trump has been a common discussion for everyone. With reports that he has been on different medications and treatments, it has been difficult to determine how well he is doing. This confusion can also lead to doubt and concern about the care the President is receiving.

As an Emergency Physician, I have found that this is a common issue for patients and their family members. Patients are much more comfortable with their treatment when they have a better understanding of the medications and care they are receiving. Here we are going to delve into two of the medications that President Trump is taking as well as how they work. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Medical bottle with remdesivir

What Happens to Your Body on Remdesivir

Initially, an antiviral medication that was thought to help patients with Ebola, it has become an important treatment for COVID-19. The process by which Remdesivir blocks the virus was initially unknown, but with more studies, researchers have a possible answer. 

In order for a virus to infect the body, the virus must be able to replicate the genetic material within it, called RNA. There are a number of enzymes that are necessary for the copying of the RNA, most of which are within the cells of the patient. The virus enters the cells and then makes copies of itself using the enzymes present within the cells. Once the genetic material is created, it is packaged into its own viral particle and sent out of the cell to find another cell to infect.

This is the mechanism of the viral infection of a host organism, or patient.  Remdesivir appears to block a specific enzyme within the replication stage. It blocks the cellular copy machine keeping the virus from replicating. With the copying machine blocked, the number of viral particles will decrease which will help the patient improve.

Remdesivir is currently allowed for use in patients under emergency use authorization and has has been found to decrease the duration of hospital stay for patients even if they are in the intensive care unit.

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REGN-COV2, Regeneron's investigational double antibody cocktail for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19

What Happens to Your Body on REGN-COV2

The President's physicians announced that he was treated with the cocktail of antibodies contained within the REGN-COV2 medication. This treatment blocks a different stage in the life cycle of a virus. Although Remdesivir blocks the enzymes within the cells of the infected patient, REGN-COV2 blocks the virus from getting into the cells.

Think of the interaction between a virus and a cell similar to a house key and the lock. In order to enter the house, you need to be able to put the key in the lock. The antibodies that are contained within the REGN-COV2 cocktail basically bend the key keeping it from working in the lock.

The reason that there are two antibodies within the treatment is done to minimize the ability of the virus to mutate. Both of the antibodies attach to the virus but in different areas of the "key." If there were only one antibody, the virus could possibly adapt, and still get into the cell.

Using the key analogy once again, if there was only one antibody that bent the key to the left, the virus could adapt. With two antibodies, each bending the key in a different direction, the virus cannot determine which way to bend in order to enter the cells. As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 11 Early Signs You've Caught COVID.

Kenneth Perry, MD FACEP
Dr. Perry is an active practicing physician and Medical Director of an Emergency Department in Charleston, South Carolina. Read more about Kenneth