President Donald Trump said that U.S. pharmaceutical companies have discussed “recently developed” treatment for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care on Monday afternoon with the CCP virus.
Johnson was diagnosed with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, on March 27. His condition worsened over Monday afternoon and he was moved to intensive care on the advice of his medical team.
Although the UK prime minister had received oxygen, his office said on Monday he was still conscious and was moved to intensive care just in case he needed to be put on a ventilator.
“He’s not on a ventilator no,” Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC radio on Tuesday. “The prime minister has received some oxygen support and he is kept under, of course, close supervision.”
Trump said Monday night that he asked two leading U.S. companies to contact London immediately.
“These are brilliant companies—Ebola, AIDS, others—they’ve come with the solutions and just have done incredible jobs … They have offices in London, major companies. More than major, more than size, they’re genius,” the president said of the companies.
Trump added that he had spoken to four companies and that he understands that they “have really advanced therapeutics.”
“They have arrived in London already,” Trump said. “Their London office has whatever they need and we will see if we can be of help—we have contacted all of Boris’s doctors and we will see what is going to take place. But they are ready to go … The two companies are there and with what they are talking about—and it is rather complex and has had really incredible results—we are working with the FDA and everybody else but we are working with London with respect to Boris Johnson.”
Earlier in the day, Trump spoke by telephone with CEOs of four pharmaceutical companies—Amgen, Genetech, Gilead, and Regeneron.
“The president acknowledged the industry’s progress in developing therapeutics to fight this pandemic and promised the federal government will continue to be a helpful partner with science and data leading the way,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement. “The executives thanked President Trump for directing his administration to break down barriers, cut red tape, and encourage cooperation across all industries and government to best meet the needs of the American people during this unprecedented time.”
A reporter asked Trump about what treatment was discussed for Johnson, and whether the treatment is available to the American public.
“It’s a very complex treatment of things that they’ve just recently developed, and that they have a lot of experience with having to do with something else—but recent for this. They’ve already concurred, they’ve already had meetings with the doctors and we’ll see whether or not they want to go that route,” Trump responded.
“I think we have three of them. I spoke with four. You know who the four would be,” Trump said, without naming the companies at the press conference.
Trump also expressed well-wishes and praised the UK prime minister.
“I want to send best wishes to a very good friend of mine and a friend to our nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” Trump said. “He has been a really good friend, something very special—strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up.”
“I found Boris to be a fantastic person,” the president later said. “Just like a fantastic, warm, strong, smart guy. He loves his country. You see that. He fought like hell for his country. Intensive care is big stuff. Really big.”
When asked by a reporter from The Guardian about whether Johnson’s initially relaxed approach to the pandemic may have been a mistake, Trump said: “I think he was looking at it differently. He was looking at it earlier. He was looking at it like, ‘ride it out.’ There were many people thinking about riding it out. Meaning, you know, whatever it is, it is.”
“But then you see what starts to happen and the numbers become monumental,” Trump continued. “And they decide not to do that.”
Trump noted that the UK has now moved to a “very strict lockdown, but they’re suffering greatly as a nation right now. They’re a nation that’s having a difficult time.”
“[Boris Johnson]’s just such an incredible guy. It was so shocking to see that. You know what that means, intensive care is a big deal with regard to what we’re talking about,” Trump said.
Trump noted that the United States moved quickly in imposing a travel ban from China, while the UK prime minister “waited a little while and he felt that.”
Reuters contributed to this report.