After President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 this week, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley promptly recommended that he be moved to Walter Reed Medical Center. In a new YouTube video, pulmonary medicine specialist Dr. Mike Hansen provides a breakdown of the president’s diagnosis and what we know about the treatment he is receiving.
It’s unclear how serious his symptoms are
Hansen believes that during the press conference, Dr. Conley was “evasive” when it came to answering questions about the full extent and severity of Trump’s condition, including whether or not the president is on supplemental oxygen. “It’s pretty obvious to me that he’s cherry-picking medical details,” he says, adding that Conley’s responses seem to contradict official statements coming out of the White House.
While Trump was apparently able to walk unaided to his helicopter on Saturday without oxygen, which is a good sign, Hansen says that an ultrasound would be a more accurate way of determining the state of lung inflammation. “Another concern is that someone might have blood clots in the lungs,” he says. This would require a CTA scan, and so far it is unclear whether this has been done, and what kind of blood work exactly has been carried out.
“We need to have objective findings presented to the public, and proof of vital signs,” he says. “Otherwise America and the world won’t know what is going on with our president.”
Weight is a factor
Conley described Trump as “slightly overweight,” however Hansen believes a more accurate term would be “slightly obese”—and there is a difference. “His BMI comes out as 30.4,” he says. “This is important because we know obese patients have a worse prognosis with COVID-19. It’s also important because it’s more evident that [Conley] is making things look rosier than they really are, and when that happens you lose credibility.”
Days 7 to 10 will be very telling
As Conley mentioned, medical staff will be closely observing Trump from the seventh to tenth day of his illness, as this is the period where lung and systemic inflammation can worsen. “At this point, there’s no doctor in the world who knows how this is going to play out with Trump,” says Hansen. “Trump can get better, he can get worse, it can happen slowly, it can happen quickly. I’ve had patients who are months out recovering from COVID-19. I’ve had patients who had symptoms of COVID, who got better and were discharged, they later came back to the hospital and ended up dying. There’s just no way of predicting this illness, it’s unpredictable.”
Trump received an experimental therapy
Following his diagnosis, Trump was administered a new and unproven therapy calledREGN-COV2; a cocktail of two different monoclonal antibodies made by biotech company Regeneron. Findings from a late-stage trial indicated that the treatment was safe, and seemed to reduce viral levels and improve symptoms in COVID patients.
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We don’t know when Trump last tested negative for COVID
Conley declined to say when the president last received a negative test result, which Hansen points out “has important implications for contact tracing.” The average incubation time for the virus is anything from 4 to 7 days. This means Trump likely contracted the virus within this period. The timings do seem to line up and suggest that the Rose Garden event, where Trump and many of his associates gathered without masks, was where the president came into contact with the virus.
“A more precise answer would come from knowing when he had his last negative test, an when he tested positive,” says Hansen. “This is something that absolutely needs to be disclosed… Everyone who has been exposed to Trump since he first contracted the virus needs to be in quarantine.”
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