As President Donald Trump continues to falsely claim that antibody therapy is a “cure” for COVID-19, his campaign is now running dozens of ads in battleground states touting the “medicine,” which Trump calls “incredible” and claims that Americans are “going to get it free -- no charge.” These deceptive ads come as Facebook continues to struggle with mitigating the spread of harmful misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic on its platform.
After Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, he was given several treatments, including Regeneron’s experimental monoclonal antibody therapy. Five days after receiving the treatment, Trump claimed that it was a “cure,” despite the fact that he was given a variety of other treatments that could have also contributed to his improvement. The treatment is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has only been tested in small studies.
Early data suggests that Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment is promising, and it is one of several therapeutics that the Trump administration is supporting under “Operation Warp Speed,” its program to speed up distribution of any coronavirus vaccines or therapeutics which are approved by the FDA.
Using the Dewey Square Adwatch tool set, Media Matters found that the Trump campaign started running at least 328 ads since October 13 that call Operation Warp Speed a “HISTORIC effort to bring vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to the American people in RECORD TIME.”
Among the ads, there are more than 40 published today that also include a deceptive video:
In reality, Regeneron reportedly has enough doses produced for only 50,000 patients, which is far from Trump’s claim, “You’re going to get the same medicine. You’re going to get it free -- no charge.” For reference, over 54,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the U.S. on October 13 alone.
This is not the first therapeutic that Trump has falsely touted as a cure during the pandemic. Trump and his right-wing media allies spent months claiming that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for COVID-19, even after the FDA cautioned against its use.
The 40 ads with Trump touting unproven medicine have already earned thousands of impressions, particularly in battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. They are joined by hundreds of additional campaign ads that include the same text and one of two videos promoting the administration’s Operation Warp Speed program.