How soon will President Donald Trump pull through a bout of COVID-19? Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who previously served as the Food and Drug Administration chief under POTUS, says he’s worried after physicians announced a dexamethasone treatment.
“They threw the kitchen sink at POTUS,” Gottlieb told CNBC. “The care will help. But they saw signs he was decompensating. The dexamethasone was a key disclosure. A lot of us were speculating that but to know that now is a key fact.”
He resigned as FDA chief last year, citing the long commute between Washington D.C. and his home in Connecticut.
White House doctors previously said that the president was on remdesivir and an antibody cocktail; just fyi, Trump previously had stock in the companies that made those two medicines. Also note the disclosure CNBC included in their piece about Gottlieb:
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has a manufacturing agreement with Gilead for remdesivir. Gottlieb also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel.”
In any case, dexamethasone is said to be best saved for serious bouts of COVID-19.
So Trump is now also receiving dexamethasone. @WHO guidelines very clear that it is to be used only “in patients with severe and critical #COVID19”. Guidelines incl. “conditional recommendation not to use corticosteroid therapy in patients with non-severe #COVID19”. pic.twitter.com/BuAl5sUdyQ
— Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape) October 4, 2020
In a press conference led by Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physicians announced they administered dexamethasone on Saturday after a second “transient” dip in Trump’s oxygen levels, this time to 93 percent.
“Given the timeline, where he is in the course of illness, we are trying to maximize everything that we can do for him, and we debated whether we’d even start it, the dexamethasone,” Conley said. “And we decided that in this case, the potential benefits early on in the course probably outweighed any risks at this time.”
The president’s current blood oxygen level was 98 percent, Conley said. They were tracking any damage to the lungs. There were “expected findings” there, but nothing concerning, the doctor said. (He did not elaborate on the findings.) They don’t have any recordings of the president’s oxygen levels dipping below 90, he said.
Dr. Sean Dooley said that the president has remained without fever since Friday morning, with stable vital signs. Dr. Brian Garibaldi said that if Trump continues to do well, they hope they can discharge him from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as early as Monday, after which he would continue treatment at the White House.
Alyssa Farah, comms director, confirms this.
“What Conley alluded to, is when you’re treating a patient, you want to project confidence, you want to lift their spirits and that was the intent.” https://t.co/OPQOQKtUbD
— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) October 4, 2020
All that sounds straightforward, but skepticism reigns after Conley gave a timeline that indicated the president would’ve been diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday. He later walked it back, saying POTUS was diagnosed Thursday evening. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, not Conley, revealed that the president had a fever and experienced a drop in oxygen on Friday.
The damage was done.
The lying from the White House on Friday and from Conley yesterday about the president’s condition is staggering.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 4, 2020
It’s hard to know whether they are taking such aggressive actions because he’s the president of the US, or because he’s really sick, and this is where the overall credibility gap and false portraits of last two days are problematic. https://t.co/WN0wMnn13x
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 4, 2020
It did not help optics that the White House was also caught publishing a picture in which Trump was supposedly working, but only signing a blank piece of paper. In other words, the administration tripped itself up attempting to put up a confident front.
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) October 4, 2020
On Sunday, Conley denied doing anything shady by withholding the information about the first drop in oxygen.
“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, in his course of illness has had,” he said. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, came off that we’re trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is, he’s doing really well.”
Nonetheless, some were skeptical at the suggestion that Trump could be released from the hospital as early as Monday.
Significant, unforced error to say this. No one was expecting him to be discharged tomorrow. But now you’ve set the expectation. So if he *isn’t* discharged tomorrow, it’ll look like he’s deteriorating. https://t.co/Ss3kdzJjeO
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) October 4, 2020
Dr. Brian Garibaldi, who is part of Trump’s medical team, said the President could be discharged from Walter Reed medical center as early as Monday.
— CNN (@CNN) October 4, 2020
Gottlieb said the two instances of drops in oxygen did not show a strong recovery. He also voiced concern about the doctors not elaborating on the their findings about the president’s lungs or viral load. The former FDA chief suggested that the team is offering “minimal,” apparently “conflicting” information.
“If they are going to discharge him tomorrow, that would mean he is virus negative,” he said. “I don’t think that’s possible.”
[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
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