- Experts say Trump’s COVID-19 case may be more severe than his doctors are releasing
- The president’s medical team announced they had given him a dose of dexamethasone
- The steroid is used to treat patients who are on ventilators or need extra oxygen
Experts questioned President Donald Trump’s health and the severity of his COVID-19 infection after the president’s doctors said he has started on dexamethasone — a generic steroid used to reduce inflammation caused by other diseases.
Trump’s medical team announced Sunday that the president had received his first dose of the steroid after experiencing low oxygen levels. Doctors at Walter Reed National Medical Center held a press conference Sunday morning, where they confirmed Trump received supplemental oxygen Friday and Saturday after intially denying it.
The medical team also detailed Trump’s treatment plan, which including taking dexamethasone and a five-day treatment course of remdesivir.
“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 tomorrow to the White House where he can continue his treatment course,” Dr. Brian Garibaldi said.
However, doctors not involved in treating the president said his dexamethasone treatment could be evidence that he is experiencing a more severe coronavirus case than his doctors are reporting, Reuters reported.
“What I heard in the news conference description suggested the President has more severe illness than the generally upbeat picture painted,” said Dr. Daniel McQuillen, an infectious disease specialist at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center.
Dexamethasone and similar steroids are used to improve survival in hospitalized patients who need extra oxygen. However, studies show that the drug may be harmful when used in patients with a milder illness.
The National Institutes of Health released COVID-19 treatment guidelines that recommended against using dexamethasone in patients who are not on ventilators or not receiving supplemental oxygen. Prescribing the steroid too early could tamp down specific immune cells and prevent the body from fighting off the infection.
Trump’s impending release from the hospital doesn’t necessarily mean he is out of the woods. “He’s not going to go to a home where there’s no medical care. There’s basically a hospital in the White House,” Dr. Walid Gellad, professor of medicine at University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters.
Trump was flown to the hospital Friday hours after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus. White House staffers received an email Sunday that urged them to “stay home” and “do not come to work” if they showed any symptoms.
According to The Hill, the all-staff email directed White House staff members to contact their primary care provider and inform their supervisors should they exhibit coronavirus-related symptoms.