There was confusion in the White House at the weekend over the actual state of health of President Donald Trump.
His physician Dr. Sean Conley said yesterday in an update on the United States (U.S.) leader that he had received supplemental oxygen on two occasions to combat his COVID-19 infection.
Speaking outside Walter Reed Medical Centre, Conley said the president had experienced two transient drops in his oxygen levels since being diagnosed with the coronavirus.
He was given two litres of oxygen at the White House on Friday morning when he also had a high fever. He was also given oxygen on Saturday at Walter Reed.
But, it was learnt that Trump’s condition after testing positive for coronavirus on Friday was far worse than what officials had made public. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said doctors had recommended Trump should go to the hospital after seeing he had a fever and his blood oxygen level dropped rapidly.
Speaking to Fox News on Saturday, Meadows said: “I can tell you this the biggest thing we see is with no fever now, and with him doing really well with his oxygen saturation levels.
“Yesterday morning, we were really concerned by that. He had a fever, and his oxygen level had dropped rapidly. Yet in typical style, this president was up and walking around.”
Also, at Saturday’s medical update, Dr. Conley told reporters that Trump had not had trouble breathing, and was not given oxygen at Walter Reed.
The medical team also said the president has been given dexamethasone, shown in studies to improve survival for patients hospitalised with critical COVID-19, who need extra oxygen.
However, it should not be given in mild cases since it can limit the body’s own ability to combat the virus, according to guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America.
Trump also received a second dose in a five-day course of Remdesivir, the intravenous antiviral drug from Gilead Sciences that can shorten hospital stays.
Conley said the president continues to improve and could be discharged as early as today, but would not be drawn on some of the other specifics of his care, including how low his oxygen levels dropped.
When questioned as to why there were conflicting reports regarding the president’s condition on Saturday, the medical team said doctors were trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that Trump has had in delivering his health reports.
On Saturday morning, Trump’s condition was said to be improving and that he was already talking about returning to the White House.
However, minutes later, 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.”
Meadows, whose initial comments were delivered on condition that he should not be identified, altered his tone hours later, telling Reuters that Trump was doing “very well” and that “doctors are very pleased with his vital signs”.
He did not clarify the discrepancy in his comments, but in an interview with Fox News broadcast on Saturday night, Meadows revealed that Trump’s condition on Friday was far worse than officials had made public, saying doctors recommended the president go to the hospital after seeing he had a fever and his blood oxygen level dropped rapidly.
A Trump adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the president was not happy to learn of Meadows’ initial remarks. CNN reports that the president was “furious” with him.