What We Know About Trump’s Covid-19 Treatment at Walter Reed

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  • Bloomberg QuickTake: Now published this video item, entitled “What We Know About Trump’s Covid-19 Treatment at Walter Reed” – below is their description.

    Early in the coronavirus outbreak, hospitals across the U.S. told patients to avoid going to the emergency room or even the doctor’s office unless they were seriously sick or perhaps having trouble breathing. Since then, not much has changed. Most people recover uneventfully at home. A large number may never even know that they had been infected, since the virus causes no symptoms in up to 40% of patients. However, President Donald Trump, who revealed he had tested positive for the coronavirus early Friday morning, is likely screened more often than almost anyone else in the world. His family, top aides and staff, and journalists who enter the White House, are also tested often. That means it is likely the president was diagnosed early in his bout with the virus, allowing doctors to closely monitor the infection as it sweeps through his body and attempts to hijack healthy cells to create more virus. And a trip to the hospital on Friday evening will allow him ready access to two treatments now used on patients who fall very ill. Trump was taken by helicopter from the White House to the nearby Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He walked from the White House to Marine One, wearing a mask, for the brief flight. In a video he tweeted after his departure, the president said, “I think I’m doing very well.” While the White House has said Trump’s symptoms are mild, the hospital stay raised questions about his condition. The vast majority of people with Covid-19 don’t need to be hospitalized, and those who do go to the hospital have a reason to be there, said Michael Ben-Aderet, an infectious disease specialist and associate medical director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “In my opinion, being hospitalized is a marker of the severity of the disease. I don’t have any details of the severity of the president’s condition, but when I hear that someone is hospitalized with Covid-19, that’s an indication that they have a more severe case,” said Ben-Aderet. “There is no benefit to being in the hospital otherwise.” The three treatments that are available under emergency-use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Covid-19 are only available in the hospital. The president’s physician, Sean Conley, said late Friday night that Trump was being treated with Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, which has been shown to help patients recover and allow them to be released more quickly. “This evening, I am happy to report that the president is doing very well,” Conley said in a White House statement. “He is not requiring any supplemental oxygen, but in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate Remdesivir therapy. He completed his first dose and is resting comfortably.” The steroid dexamethasone is typically given to patients in intensive care whose immune systems are overly active. Another option is convalescent plasma, which has antibodies from the blood of patients who have recovered. “The fact that the President is going to Walter Reed may mean his symptoms are now concerning enough to his physician team for him to be hospitalized or that he is going to get a specific treatment, or that they just want him there to be closely monitored as a precaution,” Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said in a tweet. Patients who are getting drug therapy in the hospital undergo frequent blood tests to monitor their organ function, to ensure they aren’t suffering any side effects from the treatment and to make sure the disease isn’t worsening, Ben-Aderet said. Those tests are done so frequently that it would be much easier to be in the hospital, he said. There is little doctors can offer to relatively healthy patients, as efforts to find therapies to hasten recovery from SARS-CoV-2 have largely fallen flat. Among the medications that have been tried are HIV treatments and hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug Trump took earlier in the outbreak when he was afraid he may have contracted the virus from aides. He never tested positive, and clinical trials have since shown the drug offers no substantial benefit. Trump already received another medication on Friday that has shown early signs of promise in the lab.

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    In This Story: COVID-19

    Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

    Symptoms of coronavirus

    The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

    • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
    • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
    • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

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    The human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of Lentivirus (a subgroup of retrovirus) that infect humans. Over time, they cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive.

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    Non-sexual transmission can occur from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy, during childbirth by exposure to her blood or vaginal fluid, and through breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.

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