Donald Trump was far sicker with Covid-19 than was publicly acknowledged at the time, with dangerously low oxygen levels that could have put him on a ventilator, new sources have claimed.
The then-president, who left office in January and is currently being impeached for a second time, revealed in October that he had contracted the novel coronavirus after reports indicated several advisers close to him were infected.
The 74-year-old was admitted into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on 2 October, one day after news broke of his positive test, and was under medical supervision for several days before being released, triumphantly tearing off his mask on The White House balcony, saluting a helicopter and declaring himself fully recovered.
But a new report from The New York Times has claimed that in reality, Mr Trump’s oxygen levels were so low that doctors feared that he may need to be placed on a ventilator.
In public however, Mr Trump’s physician Dr Sean P Conley said: “He’s maxing it out. He’s doing great.”
Newly revealed scans of the president’s lungs allegedly show lung infiltrates, which happen when the organ becomes inflamed and is filled with substances like fluid or bacteria and occurs only in patients with a severe case of the virus, the newspaper claims.
While still at the White House, he was reportedly given an antibody cocktail developed by the biotechnology firm Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, to help fight off the infection.
And once hospitalised, he allegedly began a regimen for a steroid called dexamethasone, which is usually recommended only for Covid-19 patients who have severe or critical forms of the disease or need ventilation.
The report also claimed that Mr Trump’s oxygen levels dropped into the 80s, sources familiar with the president’s medical chart said. Doctors have recommended for anyone to check into the hospital if their oxygen levels dip below 90 per cent.
The public was made aware that Mr Trump had a fever and low oxygen levels when he was admitted into the hospital.
But the full details of his condition were not available, and White House physician Dr Conley was accused of downplaying the president’s symptoms.
The new information from The New York Times gives more details about the concern people surrounding Mr Trump had for his condition, including warning signs he could potentially go on a ventilator.
When speaking to reporters at the time, Dr Conley downplayed the president’s condition. He was asked if X-rays of the president’s lungs showed signs of damage or pneumonia, but would only say there were “expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern.”
Dr Conley also said Mr Trump’s oxygen levels dropped down to 93 per cent, claiming they never dropped to the “low 80s”.
On 4 October, Dr Conley acknowledged he was initially giving a more optimistic report of the president’s health than what was actually going on.
“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had,” he 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.”