Since his coronavirus diagnosis last week, President Trump has received a variety of cutting-edge treatments, including an experimental polyclonal antibody infusion administered at the White House last Friday.
But the president, who returned to the White House on Monday after being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and reported no symptoms Tuesday, is also taking a cocktail of seemingly routine over-the-counter supplements and medications.
A recent memorandum from Trump physician Sean Conley noted that “the President has been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, with 210,000 deaths in the US and 1.04 million worldwide, can Trump’s drugstore-available meds aid others in the treatment of COVID-19?
That’s still unclear, according to Dr. Bruce Farber, the chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health’s North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
“There’s no evidence that any over-the-counter medication is active in treating or preventing COVID,” Farber told The Post, adding that patients should always contact their doctors before taking any new supplements.
“I think this [regimen] is somewhat unique to [Trump],” Farber added.
Here’s what we know so far about these supplements and how they might help treat the potentially deadly bug.
If there’s one pill that stands out to Farber, it’s aspirin. The painkiller and blood thinner has long been part of treatment plans for those with histories of heart attacks or strokes.
Coronavirus “dramatically increases the risk of spontaneous blood clots,” said Farber. “That’s part of COVID’s MO.
“People with COVID who are sick should be on some [anti-clotting] medication, and that could be aspirin,” he added.
A COVID-related aspirin trial at Xijing Hospital in China earlier this year hypothesized that early use of aspirin would “reduce the incidence of severe and critical patients”; however, that study’s results have not yet been posted.
Famotidine, more commonly known as the over-the-counter heartburn medication Pepcid, has also been the subject of recent research.
According to a September hospital study from Connecticut’s Hartford HealthCare, COVID patients who took famotidine were 45 percent less likely to die in the hospital, as well as 48 percent less likely to require a ventilator to breathe.
“Current thoughts are that it may lessen the hyperimmune inflammatory response,” said cardiologist Dr. Raymond McKay, the study’s primary investigator, who added that the results ought to be considered preliminary and that the specific reasons for these positive outcomes were still theoretical.
Zinc, an over-the-counter mineral, is known to regulate the immune system and metabolism.
According to preliminary research from doctors working in a Barcelona hospital, patients with lower zinc levels were more likely to die from the coronavirus.
Older people and others more susceptible to COVID, such as those with a heart condition or diabetes, may also have lower zinc levels due to diet or lower absorption levels, according to a recent Wall Street Journal column, “Trump Takes Zinc. Maybe You Should Too.”
But Farber warns that there is too much of a good thing.
“It can cause toxicity,” he said. Symptoms of too much zinc can include nausea and vomiting, as well as flu-like symptoms of fever, chills or fatigue.
“Zinc is not totally benign … particularly if taken in large quantities for long periods of time,” he added.
A recent study from the University of Chicago Medicine found a link between vitamin D deficiency and testing positive for COVID-19.
“Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections,” said David Meltzer, lead author of the study.
Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommended vitamin D supplements, which he himself takes, noting that it has “an impact on your susceptibility to infection.”
The hormone melatonin, known to regulate sleep and produced by the brain’s pineal gland, can also be taken as an oral supplement.
“It’s usually used for sleep and sleep health,” said Farber.
Additionally, the hormone has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.
Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo recently began a yearlong trial to determine whether melatonin can reduce the severity and halt the progression of COVID-19 when taken while symptoms are mild.