Analysis: The Worst Of Trump’s Coronavirus Symptoms Are Likely Yet To Come
President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 just last Thursday, but after being taken to Walter Reed Medical Center the following day, the president was discharged just three days later.
- Trump’s personal physician, Sean Conley, said the president had “met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria,” but doctors who have spent months treating COVID patients told Buzzfeed News that Trump likely isn’t out of the woods yet.
- “Months of clinical experience have shown that the disease sometimes flares up dangerously in the second week of symptoms, even in patients who had seemed to be doing well,” Buzzfeed reported.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warns in its clinical guidance that “Clinicians should be aware of the potential for some patients to rapidly deteriorate one week after illness onset.”
- Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told the news outlet: “It can go in a lot of different directions. For the next few days, I’d want him 50 feet away from an ICU, not a helicopter ride.”
- Buzzfeed also noted that Trump was given treatments that are typically reserved for seriously ill COVID patients, according to updates provided by his medical team, and the president was given supplemental oxygen twice.
On Sunday, Conley confirmed that Trump has been given a steroid, dexamethasone, that is normally only recommended for patients with severe cases of COVID-19 who are having serious trouble breathing. The drug damps down the body’s immune system, which can jump into overdrive and damage the lungs and other organs.
Trump has also been treated with remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug made by Gilead Sciences authorized for emergency use in May, and a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies against the coronavirus, developed by the biotech company Regeneron. Both have yet to be proved effective.
- “To require oxygen and to be put on remdesivir and dexamethasone so quickly after becoming infected suggests that Trump’s illness was fairly severe,” Buzzfeed reported, “though it is unlikely that a typical COVID-19 patient with the same symptoms would have been given such intensive treatment.”
- Additionally, no one knows for sure when Trump first became infected, as Conley has refused to say the last time the president tested negative for the virus.
“Week two is the worst because of the fact that you have the inflammatory response to the virus,” Cedric Dark, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told BuzzFeed News.
In the most severe cases, patients may experience a “cytokine storm,” an aggressive inflammatory immune response that causes severe lung damage. If unchecked, it can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
“If we’re on week two of symptoms, then I’d feel more comfortable that he’s not going to get worse,” Dark said. “If on the other hand the president has been honest about his symptoms, then I’d be more concerned that he needs to be on alert until at least this weekend.”