Duke in clinical trials with COVID-19 treatment similar to that given to President Trump

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Duke is part of a clinical trial studying a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 similar to the one President Trump was recently given.     

Jonathan Pannaman took part in that clinical trial. He said he started feeling a little achy last month during his daughter’s baby shower, which was held outdoors.

He assumed the aches and slight cough were side effects of a recent flu shot, but overnight his symptoms worsened.

“I couldn’t breathe,” he recalled. “I went and took my temperature and had almost a 104 degree temperature. I was nauseous, just felt really ill.”  

Doctors diagnosed him with COVID-19.

Pannaman kept getting sicker and was eventually admitted to Duke Raleigh hospital. He said he was in terrible pain and had a hard time breathing.

“In my head, I was already coming to terms with my death,” he said.   

He said doctors gave him numerous treatments including Remdesivir, steroids, vitamin D, and blood thinners. 

Pannaman also agreed to participate in a clinical trial for a monoclonal antibody treatment.  Duke is part of a worldwide study.  

“The treatment is very similar to the treatment President Trump received,” said Dr. Christina Barkauskas, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division. 

The president received an antibody treatment made by a different company, but the idea is the same. 

“This antibody is targeted toward the spike protein of the virus and should prevent that virus from entering a cell,” explained Barkauskas. 

Duke researchers are only testing the treatment in hospitalized patients right now, but, in the future, Barkauskas expects to study it in COVID-19 patients who are not in the hospital.

She said she is not surprised the president received the treatment. 

“We have a lot of experience in using monoclonal antibodies for other diseases suggesting that these therapies are safe,” she said. 

Pannaman was released from the hospital after nearly a week, and said he was grateful to go home feeling better.

“I still had no energy and it was still difficult to speak, but I felt confident that I can go home at that point and be fine, versus before I didn’t think I was going to make it,” he recalled. “I couldn’t tell you if it was the Remdesivir or steroid treatment that resolved the issue, or the trial.”  

He does not know whether he received the monoclonal antibody treatment, itself, or a placebo, but he hopes his participation in the study can help researchers learn more about the treatment and, one day, help other COVID patients.  

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