President Donald Trump on Sunday said he may have the “protective glow” of immunity from COVID-19 although it remains unknown when he last tested negative for the disease.
In an extensive interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump claimed he “beat” the novel coronavirus, passing the “highest standards” for proving so. Trump said he is also no longer taking any medications to combat the virus after being placed on a heavy steroid typically given to individuals with more severe cases.
“It looks like I’m immune for, I don’t know, maybe a long time, maybe a short time,” he said. “It could be a lifetime. Nobody really knows, but I’m immune. So the president is in very good shape to fight the battles.”
As the Associated Press reported, COVID-19 reinfection is unlikely for at least three months after acquiring the virus, but few diseases come with lifetime immunity. Researchers said in August that a Hong Kong man had been infected with the virus for a second time, suggesting that immunity may be short-lasting for at least some patients.
Trump spoke hours after his physician said in a letter Saturday that Trump is no longer considered a transmission risk and can now be around others safely.
“Now at day 10 from symptom onset, fever-free for well over 24 hours and all symptoms improved, the assortment of advanced diagnostic tests obtained reveal there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus,” Dr. Sean Conley said in a memo. “Moving forward, I will continue to monitor him clinically as he returns to an active schedule.”
Conley added that Trump has “decreasing viral loads,” meaning a lessening of how much virus is present in any sample taken from a patient.
But Conley, who had earlier this month admitted he was providing a rosier outlook on the president’s condition to convey an “upbeat” picture, did not say whether Trump has recently tested negative for the virus, nor did he indicate when Trump’s last negative test was.
Trump, his staff and medical team have repeatedly refused to provide specifics about his testing regime. Pressed by reporters last week, Conley said, “I don’t want to go backwards.”
Saturday’s letter also did not address Trump’s treatment protocol.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines stipulate that those stricken with the virus isolate themselves for at least 10 days following the onset of symptoms — with those suffering from more severe cases needing to isolate for up to 20 days. Trump first reported symptoms 10 days ago.
The president’s treatment included a strong steroid, dexamethasone, as well as an antibody cocktail produced by Regeneron. He required supplemental oxygen on two occasions after experiencing symptoms, according to his medical team.
Trump is set to return to the campaign trail Monday for a Florida rally before visiting Pennsylvania and Iowa later in the week. On Saturday, the president held his first public event at the White House since his diagnosis.
“It is disappearing,” Trump said of the coronavirus as cases across the country increase.
More than 215,000 Americans have died from the virus, according to NBC News counts.
Speaking with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Trump’s son Eric Trump said the president “got hit hard” within the first day of experiencing symptoms.
“And I can tell you as a son, it’s never fun watching your father fly off to Walter Reed on Marine One, right?” the younger Trump said, adding that the president “sounded 100 percent” by the time they spoke Saturday.
He then incorrectly stated Trump had taken a “vaccine” to combat the virus (rather than therapeutics.)
“It actually probably goes to speak to how good some of these vaccines that are being created are and what my father’s done on the vaccine front, no one could have done,” he said, adding, “He worked to push this vaccine. And now my father just took it.”
NBC News has confirmed 23 people close to Trump and three Republican senators have tested positive for Covid-19 in the days around the president’s diagnosis.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com.