This Is What Dr. Fauci Thinks About Trump's COVID Treatment
Fauci weighs in on the president's medical care following his COVID diagnosis.
The story surrounding the COVID-19 diagnosis of President Donald Trump last week continues to develop as more information is slowly released by the White House. Among the many aspects being closely critiqued is the treatment plan Trump's doctors have chosen. The severity of the president's symptoms are still being held pretty close to the vest by White House officials, but we do know that his physician Sean Conley, DO, has him on a variety of medications—some of which are considered experimental. And while this has raised the eyebrows of some medical experts, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently weighed in with a vote of confidence for Conley and others responsible for the president's COVID care.
"My colleagues that I know, including Sean Conley, are very good physicians, and they're very qualified, so I am really confident that [the president] is getting the optimal care that you can get with the team over at Walter Reed," Fauci told CNN on Oct. 5. Fauci himself is not directly involved with the medical care of the president, however.
Since making Trump's diagnosis public late last week, the White House has come under criticism for the lack of information they've provided regarding the president's health status and the severity of his symptoms. However, we've learned a bit more detail regarding what doctors are doing to promote a speedy recovery. Since testing positive for COVID-19, Trump has been put on supplemental oxygen, given an eight-milligram dose of an experimental antibody cocktail, started a regimen of the antiviral drug remdesivir, and administered dexamethasone, a steroid typically used to treat chronic diseases like lupus and cancer.
In addition to that, the president is taking zinc, vitamin D, the antihistamine famotidine, melatonin, and daily aspirin. But it's the combination and timing of the dexamethasone, antibody cocktail, and remdesivir—the latter two of which have yet to receive approval from United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—that has some doctors scratching their heads.
"What is very odd is that dexamethasone is not typically used in someone whose symptoms just started a few days ago and with one blip of low oxygen and who is otherwise walking on their own with no need for oxygen," Walid Gellad, MD, director of the center for pharmaceutical policy and prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh, told Time magazine on Oct. 4. "So either he is worse than they have admitted to or they are using the drug in a way that is not in the usual standard of care."
"Steroids are immune-suppressing, so you run the risk of predisposing someone to secondary infections," Bryan McVerry, MD, an associate professor of medicine at University of Pittsburgh who recently published a study on corticosteroids in COVID-19 patients, added in the Time article published on Sunday. "The data certainly do not support use of corticosteroids at that stage of illness."
Other medical experts, like Fauci, have vocalized their support of the decisions being made by the president's medical team. "At some point in time he dropped his oxygen levels below 94 percent and he was put on oxygen," Carlos del Rio, MD, executive associate dean and professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, explained to Time on Sunday. "You don't need to be on oxygen, [you] just need to reach that point. And once it's reached, he is a candidate for remdesivir and dexamethasone. He kissed that goal post, and once you hit that goal post that's all you need to do. If I were his physician I would say he needs to be on them. You don't wait for the patient to remain with low oxygen levels."
As for the president's current health status, Conley said the following on the evening of Oct. 3: "While not yet out of the woods, the team remains cautiously optimistic." And on Oct. 5, the president tweeted he'll be released from Walter Reed on Monday evening. And for more American leaders who have been stricken with disease while in power, check out These U.S. Presidents Also Battled Serious Diseases While in Office.