Donald Trump released a new video message on Saturday evening saying that he is “doing well”, his wife Melania is “doing very well” and the next few days will be the “real test” after he was taken to hospital with Covid-19.
“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well, I feel much better now. We’re working hard to get me all the way back,” Trump said from behind a desk in his suite at the Walter Reed hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
The US president, looking pale, said: “I’ll be back, I think I’ll be back soon, and I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started and the way we’ve been doing and the kind of numbers that we’ve been doing.”
The video countered some reports that Trump’s prognosis had worsened since he was admitted to the military hospital on Friday evening, several hours after he announced on Twitter that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had contracted the virus.
Shortly after the video was released, White House doctor Sean P Conley said Trump was free of fever and making substantial progress, but was “not yet out of the woods”.
“He spent much of the afternoon conducting business, and has been up and moving about the medical suite without difficulty,” Conley said in a statement.
Earlier on Saturday, the White House had sent contradictory messages about the president’s health, with a senior official saying his vital signs were “very concerning” even as doctors portrayed a patient recovering well from Covid-19.
While one doctor said Trump had told them “I feel like I could walk out of here today”, the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows gave reporters a less rosy assessment, saying: “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.
“We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
In his message, Trump did not directly contradict Meadows, saying: “I just want to tell you that I’m starting to feel good. You don’t know over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”
Trump said his wife was “doing very well” and joked about their age gap.
“Melania is really handling it very nicely. As you’ve probably read, she’s slightly younger than me – just a little tiny bit – and therefore, just, we know the disease, we know the situation with age versus younger people, and Melania is handling it statistically like it’s supposed to be handled. And that makes me very happy, and it makes the country very happy.”
The president thanked his medical team – “the incredible medical professionals, the doctors, the nurses, everybody, at Walter Reed Medical Center – I think it’s the finest in the world – for the incredible job they’ve been doing.”
And he referred to the coronavirus epidemic, which has taken the lives of around 200,000 Americans, derailed the US economy and in recent days threatened Trump’s re-election campaign as White House staff and Republican senators have become infected.
“This was something that happened, and it’s happened to millions of people all over the world, and I’m fighting for them. Not just in the US, I’m fighting for them all over the world. We’re going to beat this coronavirus, or whatever you want to call it, and we’re going to beat it soundly,” Trump said.
The decision to put Trump in hospital came after he had experienced difficulty breathing and his oxygen level dropped, according to a source familiar with the situation.
In his message, Trump said he had “no choice because I just didn’t want to stay in the White House”.
“I was given that alternative. Stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave, don’t even go to the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it, don’t see people, don’t talk to people and just be done with it and I can’t do that,” he said.
“I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe and just say: ‘Hey, whatever happens happens.’ I can’t do that.”
After being admitted to Walter Reed, Trump was placed on a cocktail of drugs including a five-day course of Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral drug sold by Gilead Sciences that has been shown to shorten hospital stays.
He is also taking an experimental treatment, Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, one of several experimental Covid-19 treatments known as monoclonal antibodies, as well as zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and aspirin, according to Conley.
During his message Trump made no mention of being placed on supplemental oxygen before he was admitted. “If you look at the therapeutics, which I’m taking right now, some of them, and others are coming out soon that are looking like – frankly, they’re miracles if you want to know the truth. They’re miracles,” he said.
Trump is considered vulnerable because of his age and weight. He has remained in apparent good health during his time in office but is not known to exercise regularly or to follow a healthy diet.
Trump also thanked Americans for their “almost bipartisan” well wishes and concluded his message by saying: “I think we’re going to have a very good result.”