The White House has become a coronavirus hotspot and staff have been instructed to wear protective equipment around Donald Trump — but the U.S. president claims he has been “cured” of COVID-19 infection and is “essentially very clean.”
Trump gave himself a clean bill of health, while acknowledging that he hasn’t been tested for the virus recently, in a wide-ranging, 55-minute phone interview with Fox Business on Thursday morning.
“I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young, so I’m lucky in that way,” he claimed during the interview. “I’ll be tested pretty soon, but I’m essentially very clean,” he added.
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Trump, 74, has a well-documented love for cheeseburgers and is clinically obese, according to the results of his last medical exam. He spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19 last Friday, and was given supplemental oxygen at least twice while fighting the disease. Doctors also gave him a number of experimental drugs and steroids during his stay.
His personal doctor, Sean Conley, said he had been symptom-free for 24 hours as of Wednesday afternoon. However, Conley has not shared the date of Trump’s last negative test for the virus, and the president’s aides reportedly wore protective gear while speaking to him in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
The president offered conflicting evaluations of his hospital stay on Thursday, hailing the drugs he received while also claiming that the hospitalization was unnecessary.
“I didn’t even have to go in, frankly. I think it would have gone away by itself,” he said.
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Trump also claimed that he had been “cured” by Regeneron, a company developing an experimental cocktail of antibody drugs meant to boost the body’s immune system against COVID-19. Trump received the Regeneron cocktail along with several other therapeutic treatments during his three-night stay at the hospital.
“I view it as a cure, not just a therapeutic, I view it as a cure because I took it,” Trump said on Thursday. “I’m feeling good. Really good. I think perfect.”
A cure, by definition, involves eliminating the disease entirely from a patient’s body. Doctors have not shared any specific evidence that Regeneron’s cocktail removed the coronavirus from Trump’s system. Drug treatments are typically approved based on a large number of patient results.
Trump made the same false equivalence between a therapy and a cure on Wednesday in a video about antibody drugs posted on his Twitter account.
“They’re gonna say that they’re therapeutic, and I guess they are therapeutic,” Trump said in the video. “Some people don’t know how to define therapeutic. I view it different. It’s a cure.”
The video depicted a particularly orange-hued Trump, a departure from his more wan appearance during his hospital stay.
Trump said he would push to get the experimental drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly, another firm, out to patients across the U.S. for “free.” He also suggested the drugs would become his new priority over a vaccine, which likely won’t be ready by U.S. election day on Nov. 3.
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Regeneron and Eli Lilly formally asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval of their drugs on Wednesday evening.
The safety and effectiveness of Regeneron have not yet been proven, and there is no way to know which treatment, if any, had an effect on the president’s system.
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Trump has touted a variety of unproven cures in the past. He spent many months preaching about the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that was never proven to be an effective treatment for COVID-19. He also infamously tried to guess at potential COVID-19 cures during a press conference in April, when he floated the idea of using sunlight or bleach on the body.
“I see that disinfectant, it knocks it out. In a minute. One minute,” Trump said at the briefing. “And is there a way that we can do something like that, by injection inside or, or, almost a cleaning?”
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Ingesting disinfectant is hazardous to humans and doctors did not try it on Trump during his hospitalization.
On Thursday, Trump suggested that he might not be contagious anymore, and floated the idea of holding a rally that same evening.
“I think I’m better to the point where I’d love to do a rally tonight,” he said.
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He also claimed, without evidence, that one becomes immune after contracting the virus.
“You get better. That’s what happens. You get better,” he said. “As soon as everything goes away, for me, you’re immune.”
Doctors at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still don’t know whether a person can be reinfected by COVID-19, or how long potential immunity might last.
More than 210,00 Americans have died of COVID-19.
—With files from The Associated Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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