This One Detail Has Doctors Worried Trump's COVID Case Could Be Severe
While the president's status remains somewhat mysterious, this is a bad sign, according to doctors.
In a video he tweeted on Sunday evening, President Donald Trump said, "I'm getting great reports from the doctors." And those close to the president have been issuing similar updates since his COVID diagnosis came to light late Thursday evening. On Saturday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had a "great call" with Trump, who "sounds well and says he's feeling good." White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also told Reuters on Saturday that "doctors are very pleased with his vital signs." But there's one detail that has doctors who aren't involved directly in the president's medical care concerned. After an oxygen drop, Sean P. Conley, DO, the White House physician who's been treating the president, said Trump has been started on the steroid dexamethasone. Read on for more on this drug, and to learn the details of the president's condition, here are The COVID Symptoms President Trump Reportedly Has.
"Over the course of his illness, the president has experienced two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation. We debated the reasons for this, and whether we'd even intervene," Conley said on Sunday, according to Newsweek. "It was a determination of the team based on the timeline from the initial diagnosis that we initiate dexamethasone."
Brian Garibaldi, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit who's been treating Trump, also said on Sunday, "We did initiate dexamethasone therapy and he received his first dose of that yesterday [Saturday]. Our plan is to continue that for the time being."
In July, the New England Journal of Medicine published the findings of a University of Oxford study on the effects of dexamethasone. After examining nearly 6,500 COVID patients, the researchers found that dexamethasone reduces deaths among patients on mechanical ventilators by one-third and among patients receiving other forms of oxygen, the drug reduced mortality one-fifth. However, those who were given dexamethasone but were not receiving respiratory treatment died at a slightly higher rate than patients with similar cases who were not given the drug, The New York Times reported around the time the study was published.
As a result of these findings, the National Institutes of Health's COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel "recommends against using dexamethasone for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who do not require supplemental oxygen." And that is exactly what has many doctors concerned about the president's state.
"When I think about people needing dexamethasone, I think about people who are escalating their condition, who are heading closer to ICU level than to home," Rochelle Walensky, MD, chief of the division of infectious disease at Massachusetts General Hospital, told The New York Times.
Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University, told Reuters, "We give dexamethasone to patients who require supplemental oxygen."
Others who've been on dexamethasone before say it's "a drug that seriously messes with your mind," according to Stanford Law professor Michele Dauber. "I was treated with dexamethasone following brain surgery," she tweeted. "He should not be exercising the powers of the Office of President on that drug."
Still, Trump's doctors say he could be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as soon as Monday. And for more on the president's condition, These 4 Factors Put Donald Trump at Risk of Severe COVID.