Live coverage of the vice presidential debate
The debate starts at midday AEST, so we are still a couple of hours away here. There is plenty to discuss in the meantime though.
President Trump just posted a new video message on social media, saying it has been days since he had any symptoms from the coronavirus.
He attributed his recovery to an experimental cocktail of antibodies developed by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron.
“I wasn’t feeling so hot, and within a very short period of time they gave me Regeneron, and it was like, unbelievable. I felt good immediately,” Mr Trump said.
“It just made me better. I call that a cure.
“We have to get them done, we have to get them approved.”
To be clear, he wasn’t given “Regeneron”. That’s the name of the company. Mr Trump received REGN-COV2, a combination of antibodies which is promising, but still very much in the clinical testing phase.
Last week, a couple of days before the President tested positive for the virus, Regeneron revealed data showing its treatment “reduced viral load and the time to alleviate symptoms in non-hospitalised patients” infected with COVID-19.
The greatest improvements were observed in patients “who had not mounted their own effective immune response prior to treatment”.
It was encouraging stuff, but based on results from just 275 patients.
There’s much more testing to do before REGN-COV2 could become widely available to the public. If Mr Trump were not President, he could not have got his hands on the treatment.
In the video message, he said he’d authorised REGN-COV2 and a similar treatment from Eli Lilly for emergency use, and said both would be free for the general public.
It’s unclear whether any of that is true. Eli Lilly says it has not yet received approval, and I’m not sure how Mr Trump would make the treatments free.
RELATED: Experimental coronavirus treatment explained
Moving on. Mr Trump promised Americans a “great vaccine” would be available “very shortly”.
“I think we should have it before the election, but frankly the politics get involved, and that’s OK. They want to play their games,” he said.
Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, which is responsible for approving drugs in the United States, released new recommendations for the development of potential coronavirus vaccines.
Those guidelines, which had previously been blocked by White House officials, call for comprehensive safety data to be gathered in the final stage of clinical trials before the FDA grants an emergency use authorisation.
The idea is to make sure a vaccine is safe before it’s distributed to the public. Mr Trump, who wants a vaccine before the election, reckons the FDA – rather than, say, himself – is motivated by politics.
“I think it was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise,” Mr Trump continued.
“I caught it, I heard about this drug, I said, ‘Let me take it.’ It was my suggestion. ‘Let me take it.’ And it was incredible the way it worked. Incredible.
“It really did a fantastic job.”
The President has been extremely amped up on Twitter since he got back from hospital – the proportion of tweets posted IN ALL CAPS has definitely risen – so we can probably expect him to comment on the debate later.