White House doctor: Rosy assessment of Trump health meant to contain alarm
Iran Press TV
Monday, 05 October 2020 6:18 AM
White House physician Sean Conley says he has lied about Donald Trump's health because he did not want to cause alarm amid uncertainty about the severity of the president's status after he tested positive with the coronavirus.
The 40-year-old Navy Cmdr., who once confided to his colleagues that he was laboring under intense personal stress in his job as a White House doctor, said he gave a rosy pronouncement of Trump's state of health Saturday without revealing that the Republican president had been given supplemental oxygen or put on a steroid reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients.
On Sunday, however, he finally revealed those details, acknowledging that Trump's oxygen level had dropped at one point, according to The Washington Post.
"I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, over his course of illness, has had," Conley said. "I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true. .‚ÄČ.‚ÄČ. The fact of the matter is that he's doing really well."
However, long before Trump contracted the virus especially lethal to the elderly, some of Conley's former co-workers said they were bitterly disappointed at what they regard as his lack of independence from White House politics.
"Every statement he is giving appears to be political, dictated by the White House or the president," said one person who has worked with him.
"These are not the statements a medical doctor gives," added the person, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that "the fact that this publication has chosen to write a hit piece on the President's physician, who is an officer in the US Navy, at this critical time is outright disgusting and irresponsible."
Meanwhile, doctors not involved in treating Trump for the virus said the fact that the president is on dexamethasone - a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation - is the hardest evidence yet that his case might be severe.
On Sunday, Trump's medical team said the president was started on the steroid after experiencing low oxygen levels, but they noted his condition was improving and he could be discharged from the hospital the next day.
"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 & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts.
According to the Infectious Disease Society of America, dexamethasone is beneficial to people with critical or severe COVID-19 who need extra oxygen, though studies show that the drug is not only not helpful but may even be harmful for people with a milder case of the sickness.
Considering the fact that Trump is 74 years old, overweight and possibly at high risk of complications, "they were aggressive at the beginning," said Dr. Stuart Cohen, chief of infectious disease at California's UC Davis Health.
He and other physicians who have been treating COVID-19 patients for months said Trump could still be discharged.
"He's not going to go to a home where there's no medical care. There's basically a hospital in the White House," said Dr. Walid Gellad, professor of medicine at University of Pittsburgh.
Trump arrived by helicopter at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington on Friday. While at the White House, the president was given an infusion of an experimental antibody treatment from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals REGN.O that is currently under study for early infections. On Saturday, he was started on a five-day course of intravenous antiviral drug remdesivir, which is sold by Gilead Sciences GILD.O.
According to doctors, both of these drugs can be used early in the course of illness to prevent it from deteriorating, but dexamethasone is generally reserved for people whose condition has become worse.
"We give dexamethasone to patients who require supplemental oxygen," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.
He added that Trump's doctors could discharge him from the hospital if he is no longer in need of supplemental oxygen and is able to return to his normal activities.
"The biggest question would be is there a risk of deterioration, or is he on a good trajectory?" Dr. Adalja said.
Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at New York's Northwell Health said "it's entirely plausible" that Trump could get discharged on Monday, but cautioned that a full recovery would take time.
"It would be very unlikely for him to be out and about, and on the campaign trail in less than 14 days," he said.
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