Former President Donald Trump’s struggle with COVID-19 was “far more serious” than the public knew, and officials leapfrogged protocol for an experimental drug treatment not available to other Americans, according to a new book by Washington Post reporters.
“His fever spiked, and his blood oxygen level fell below 94 percent, at one point dipping into the 80s. ... Trump was given oxygen in an effort to stabilize him” before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to excerpts Thursday in the Post.
Then Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn was worried that an unproven drug presented a risk for Trump. He was in the “highest-risk category for severe disease from COVID-19 — at 74, he rarely exercised and was considered medically obese,” noted authors Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta. But the call to use a monoclonal antibody — and several other emergency drugs — proved to be the right decision, and Trump recovered.
The silver lining in Trump’s “grave” battle with the disease after months of flouting safety protocols was that advisers were hopeful it would persuade him to get serious about the coronavirus, the authors reported.
But officials quickly realized Trump had survived his struggle with COVID-19 only to become more dismissive of the virus than before.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time, “prayed” that Trump would “emerge from the experience with a newfound appreciation for the seriousness of the threat,” according to the authors. He hoped Trump would urge all Americans to listen to public health experts “before it was too late.”
“Instead, Trump emerged from the experience triumphant and ever more defiant. He urged people not to be afraid of the virus or let it dominate their lives, disregarding that he had had access to health care and treatments unavailable to other Americans,” the book states.
Redfield’s hopes were dashed the instant he watched Trump disgustedly rip off his mask as he stood at the top of the White House stairs after returning from Walter Reed, according to book.
And when Trump pulled off his mask, he was still “probably contagious,” the book notes. He then “strode into the White House, passing staffers on his way and failing to protect them from the virus particles emitted from his nose and mouth.”
His response to the pandemic wouldn’t change.
Check out the rest of the adapted excerpt here.
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