- President Trump received an experimental coronavirus drug made by Regeneron, as well as remdesivir and dexamethasone, prompting speculation from doctors regarding his COVID-19 prognosis.
- Some experts worry that the addition of remdesivir and dexamethasone might signal a severe case of coronavirus, indicating there’s something that the White House isn’t telling us.
- Others think doctors might merely be throwing everything they can at the illness in an effort to prevent COVID-19 complications for the president.
President Trump confirmed late on Thursday that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after one of his closest aides was infected. A day later, Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for observation and additional therapy, with White House Dr. Sean Conley providing limited details about the president’s condition. Conley revealed that Trump received various drugs at the White House, including an experimental drug from Regeneron consisting of artificial antibodies that can neutralize the virus. He also received vitamin D, zinc, famotidine, aspirin, and melatonin. The doctor seemed to imply that Trump’s oxygen dropped at the White House, which required oxygen therapy, and then Conley confirmed two such episodes without revealing specific details. The doctor said that Trump was breathing on his own at the hospital and was in a good mood. Trump himself posted videos on Twitter where he addressed his condition. Then, to the dismay of doctors and Secret Service, he went on a drive on Sunday so he could wave to fans outside the hospital.
Trump was started on remdesivir on Saturday, a five-day intravenous treatment that can speed up COVID-19 recovery. The drug is the standard of care in COVID-19 and was found to be useful in moderate and severe cases. But then, the team of doctors indicated that Trump might leave the hospital on Monday. The President was also given dexamethasone, another drug that’s confirmed to work in moderate to severe cases. These therapeutical decisions, combined with the limited information the White House has been willing to provide about Trump’s condition has confused medical professionals. Some think the drugs Trump has been given indicate a worse COVID-19 prognosis than what the public has been told. Meanwhile, others say the physicians are simply trying to get ahead of potential COVID-19 complications and throwing everything they can at the disease.
Trump’s gender, age, and weight are risk factors that can lead to COVID-19 complications. So are any underlying medical conditions that the president may not have disclosed to the public, such as heart disease that’s often associated with age and obesity.
Doctors who looked at what the team of White House and Walter Reed physicians had to say about the evolution of Trump’s COVID-19 case pointed out a lack of information that doesn’t paint a full picture. Oxygen issues early in the illness aren’t a good sign, but Trump’s doctors never disclosed how low his oxygen levels dropped.
Several physicians addressed Trump’s therapy in interviews with The New York Times. Here are some reactions:
Dr. Thomas McGinn, physician-in-chief at Northwell Health:
“The dexamethasone is the most mystifying of the drugs we’re seeing him being given at this point,” McGinn said, adding that the drug is given to patients who are deteriorating. “Suddenly, they’re throwing the kitchen sink at him. It raises the question: Is he sicker than we’re hearing, or are they being overly aggressive because he is the president, in a way that could be potentially harmful?”
He continued, “You’re giving remdesivir, you’re giving dexamethasone, and you’re giving monoclonal antibodies,” referring to the experimental treatment by Regeneron. “No one’s ever done that, not to mention famotidine and some zinc and a mix of cocktails, or whatever else he’s on.”
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the division of infectious disease at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School:
“When I think about people needing dexamethasone, I think about people who are escalating their condition, who are heading closer to I.C.U. level than to home.”
Dr. Sam Parnia, associate professor of critical care medicine at N.Y.U. Langone:
“If you start somebody on steroids because their oxygen saturations are dropping, then that is the time to be vigilant and to be monitoring somebody more closely. If there was a concern that certain things were not available at the White House when his oxygen was a little higher, it probably makes sense to be vigilant now.”
The full The New York Times article is available at this link. Earlier reactions from doctors, also via The Times, can be found here.