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President Trump’s doctor said Trump is not currently on oxygen, but would not say whether he ever received oxygen since his COVID-19 diagnosis.

USA TODAY

Doctors appeared before reporters outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday morning to update the public on the status of President Donald Trump’s health after testing positive for COVID-19.  

White House physician Sean Conley said the president is improving and, later in the day, Trump showed his progress by waving to supporters from the back seat of an SUV as it drove by a demonstration. 

But even as Trump and his doctors say he may be discharged as early as Monday, some health experts are troubled by details of his condition and treatment. 

Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s news conference. 

Donald Trump, on dexamethasone, may be discharged ‘as early as tomorrow’

Dr. Brian Garibaldi: We did initiate dexamethasone therapy and he received his first dose of that yesterday … If he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as (Monday) to the White House where he can continue his treatment course.

Dexamethasone has only been shown to benefit extremely ill COVID-19 patients. Russell Buhr, a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, said patients are recommended the steroid if they require supplemental oxygen or require mechanical ventilation. It is not given as a pre-emptive prophylactic, he said.

Dexamethasone also is not typically advised for patients with mild symptoms, as steroids can sometimes “hinder your body’s ability to fight the virus,” Yale Medicine’s Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu told USA TODAY in June.

A further issue: Researchers found that dexamethasone can interfere with the benefits of remesdivir, another medication Trump is currently taking. “Clinicians need to be cautious regarding this interaction,” they wrote in an study published in August in the journal SN Comprehensive Clinical Medicine.

What complications could remdesivir lead to?

Dr. Brian Garibaldi: The president yesterday evening completed a second dose of remdesivir. He’s tolerated that infusion while we’ve been monitoring for any potential side effects and he has had none that we can tell.

Remdesivir is taken intravenously over the course of five days. It is generally given to patients who need oxygen but do not require ventilation. In August, the FDA approved the drug for widespread use — to some concern from experts.

Side effects of remdesivir, per University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, include nausea, possible liver damage and worsening respiratory failure. 

What do ‘transient drops’ in Donald Trump’s oxygen saturation refer to?

Dr. Sean Conley: There was that momentary episode of the high fever and that temporary drop in the saturation, which prompted us to act expediently to move him up here. Fortunately, that was really a very transient limited episode…Yesterday there was another episode where he dropped down about 93%. He (didn’t) ever feel short of breath, we watched it and